Thursday, January 31, 2008

Sharing and Poop.....NOT ALWAYS A GOOD THING

My husband shares everything. He is a good man. He gives me his paycheck. He shares our kids. He even goes to the grocery store every other week for me. I really am a very lucky woman.....for the most part.

This week I wish that he wasn't such a sharing kind of guy! He came down with the flu on Friday. I tried my best to make him better, or at the very least, alleviate some of his suffering. I also tried to stay as far away from him as possible! I slept in another room even....all to no avail.

I have been walking around doing the "I'm not sick" chant for two days now. Unfortunately, that doesn't seem to have the affect it usually does. I hurt all over. My whole head feels like it may explode. And if I cough one more time, I think I may seriously injure a rib.

It's a shame that mom's are not allowed to get sick. I still have kids to get off to school, a house that has to be cleaned, and laundry screaming to be done. Why is it that the world doesn't slow down for you when you need it to?

To add insult to injury (or illness), my five year old daughter decided to be creative last night. Let me start by saying she isn't mentally deficient that I know of (although after last night I do question that statement).

Her little creative self thought it would be fun to finger paint on the side of the toilet. Just what would a five year old paint with? Markers, crayons, make-up, actual PAINT? Oh hell no! She didn't want to go with the normal standard of destruction that my other kids have used in the past. She's FAR more creative than that!

POOP!!! That's right, I said POOP! I still can't get my head around it. It was a lovely swirly design, complete with fingerprints...HERS. I was so flabbergasted I just cleaned it up first, asked questions later (okay, so I threatened her very existence if she EVER did that again).

As I was braiding her long blond hair, after getting her out of the bath last night, I just had to ask. What would make an anally retentive neat freak of a five year old do such an unspeakable thing....

After several moments to ponder the age old question of "why did you finger paint with your own poo?", she simply shrugged her shoulders and said, "It happens." I SWEAR TO GOD I AM NOT MAKING THIS UP!

So although I was seriously upset, the fact that my five year old tells me that "it happens" while referring to only response was to shake my head and say, "yes, $h&* happens alright."

Every day is an adventure at my house....sometimes not the good kind, either!

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Importance of Good Record Keeping on Your Characters

I started revisions on TCH last night! Yea me. I only worked on the first two paragraphs, and after having to go back to chapter after chapter, reminding myself of who and how everybody was related, I decided I had better put it down in one place.

I suppose experienced writers have already learned this very important lesson. I just did. I spent hours on my Sinclair and Crichton family trees. After that, I searched the web looking for pics of actors/people that resembled my characters, and made a separate "casting" sheet, if you will. This way, as I progress into revisions, and onto the next books, I can try and keep from having conflicting info (i.e. hair/eye color).

My next project is going to be a historical timeline. That will also keep facts from getting misconstrued. Let me just say that I am learning and evolving on a CONSTANT basis.

I tried to do one of those character charts on each individual, however, it was a bit daunting. I think as I write, I may do one on each main character as I get to them in revisions.

These are things that would have been nice to know about when I started. But seeing as how I was writing just for the fun of it, and NEVER actually thought this story would turn into a book (and then a few more), I didn't even give it any thought.

Hind is truly 20/20.

Monday, January 28, 2008

OCD vs. the Substitute Teacher

Before I go any further into this post, I am sure there are many people out there that have Obsessive/Compulsive Disorder (OCD) that makes their life hard, and we should all respect that.

That being said, my oldest daughter, who is almost 14, came home with a story that I felt the need to immortalize in print. Let me say beforehand, that my daughter has a VERY dry sense of humor, much like her mother. It gets old having to explain to people that you were only joking, after your serious dead-pan face doesn't immediately tell people what a wonderful sense of humor you actually have.

Okay, onward and upward we go kiddies....There was a substitute in Tiffany's favorite class last week. She finished a worksheet, and after looking at it, decided she didn't like her handwriting and wanted to do it over. Here is how the conversation went when she approached the male substitute teacher:

Tiffany: "Can I get another worksheet."

Sub: "Why? You've finished it already."

Tiffany: "Yes, but I don't like my handwriting, I'd like to redo it."

Sub: "I can read it, the handwriting is fine."

Tiffany: "Well, I don't like my handwriting, and would like to rewrite the paper. Can I have another one?"

Sub: "Do I need to send you next door? I said the paper was fine."

Tiffany: "I'm sorry if my OCD causes you problems"

Sub (with a look of mortification on his poor, naive face): "Uh, oh, oh, here, I'm sorry."

{At this point, let me point out that if Tiffany, my daughter, has OCD, it's news to me}

The class then erupts with laughter, to which Tiffany responds, supposedly with a smile on her face, "Ya'll stop laughing at me. It's not funny."

Of course the laughter continued, and Tiffany, ever the quiet and non-disruptive type, says, "I mean it guys, you're going to make me cry."

This of course, delivered with a smile, that should have told this poor man that she was merely basking in the amusement of her peers, but nooooo, substitute says in a panicked voice, "This is NOT a laughing matter. Stop laughing at her. It's nothing to laugh at."

This poor guy probably felt bad the rest of the day. Teenagers....gotta love em, cause you can't kill em.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

What was lurking in the dark country cemetery?

Any that know me, understand that I am a complicated teenage daughter has one word to describe her eclectic mother...."WEIRD".

Okay, okay, so that does seem to be an accurate description at times. One of those times would be when I go on one of my many nighttime excursions to the cemetery.

To prevent this post from being the size of War and Peace, I will refrain from going into the past paranormal experiences that I have had, but let me just say they are many and varied.

That being said, I will start with one of my last trips to a cemetery. It was of course, after dark, on a clear warm night in the summer. My sister, who constantly thinks a ghost may be stalking her around each corner, wanted to visit a new cemetery.

Now, I do have my own set of personal ghost hunting rules, and one of them is to NEVER visit a location at night, before first checking it out in the gloriously bright Oklahoma sunshine. Needless to say, I had driven by this location on occasion, but had never had the strong urge to pull in and peruse the headstones before.

I lost the battle about visiting the local cemetery that I knew the layout of, seeing as how I could see the darn place from my bedroom window all through my childhood and I had walked there as a child/teen/and then wanna-be-ghost chaser (Geez, no wonder I am a warped individual). Instead, we started the long, lonely drive out into BFE.

Driving down the darkened country road toward the cemetery, I had many misgivings. Now, I am a firm believer in listening to that little voice in my head, and it was screaming, "Turn around, SATAN LIVES THERE, there is a group of cannibalistic cult members that prey on idiotic women who traipse around dark cemeteries". Alas, my sister couldn't hear the constant warnings that were being shouted over a bullhorn. Go figure.

Heedless of the impending danger, I bravely turned into the cemetery. The front was lit by an old wooden street lamp. There was a lone flag pole, minus the flag, the rope blowing in the slight breeze. I rolled the window down on my very own Mystery Machine named Betsy (teal green mini-van, but Mystery Machine (MM) sounded so much cooler, and the previous owner still to this day refers to the MM as Betsy....I would call it the BM, however, you'd have to eat Booberry cereal for a week to crap out the color of this van....don't even ask me how I know this, just TRUST ME).

I turned the headlights off, so as not to draw attention from passing cars or the cannibalistic cult members. Driving slowly past the entrance, the dirt road curved to the right and then toward the back. The farther we went, the darker it became. I turned my headlights on as we reached the back of the cemetery. The first thing I noticed were the trees crowding in on the small lane. It seemed there was a rather thick patch of trees and bushes that were threatening to take over the small dirt road that was barely wide enough for a bicycle, much less the BM Machine.

As we were passing by the forest of doom, my headlights reflected off of a quarter sized piece of chrome hidden amongst the trees. Upon further inspection, I saw the battered, rusted out skeleton of a 1970's model dinosaur. Looked like it could have been an old Ford LTD of those HUGE long tank cars that I learned to drive in (my Mom is a VERY short woman, and I think she tried to compensate by driving the freakin biggest car on the NOT cool, my daughter is sooooo lucky that I cart her around in the BM Machine).

There was a bright blue tarp thrown haphazardly over half of the car, leading me to believe that it was the headquarters for one of two things....SATAN, or the cannibalistic cult....possibly BOTH.

I do remember looking at my sister as the car made the turn that would eventually take us back to the entrance/exit (it was an oval shaped road) and telling her that I didn't think it would be a good place to stop. I calmly explained that I wasn't concerned about meeting any ghosts, just some crazed ax murderer pissed that we had invaded his space.

I think my sister might have been agreeing, I'm not quite certain, because as I was making this comment, I was quickly approaching a VERY large tree on the passenger side of the van. I could just picture this crazed leather-face dude popping out, ax in one hand, chainsaw in the other.

I was so intent on that big tree, that I almost went too far over on the bike trail before I saw the rather large hulking bush on MY side of the car. Thank God I realized it was hanging a bit over into the road, or I might have scraped the BM Machine.

Just as I got right up to that over-grown shrub, the damn thing moved and all I could see were two glowing eyes, reflecting my headlights....

OMG did we both scream like banshees. I think I may have wet myself, but only a bit.

Who would have thought that amongst the final resting place of all those souls, leather-face's private domain, and the Satanic, cannibalistic cult, there dwelt a big ass black BULL.

After almost hyperventilating from laughter (where I again almost wet myself), I informed my sister that we would NOT be getting out, considering the darn bull might not want to share his domain with yet another interloper (that, and I had a barely noticable pee stain on my pants). I have not been back to that cemetery again, nor do I have any desire.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Men in Kilts by Katie MacAlister

As you can see by the title of this book, I had NO choice about buying it. I really wouldn't have cared whether this was the worst bit of drivel ever put into print, I HAD TO HAVE IT!
That said, this is the story of mystery writer, Kathie Williams, who goes to England for a writer's conference. Low and behold, she meets a big ole Scottish dude, they do the nasty, and Kathie ends up staying with Ian MacLaren (previously mentioned "big ole Scottish dude") on his sheep farm in the highlands of Scotland.
It is, of course a bit more detailed than that, however, the best part about this book wasn't the sex...although it was steamy, and when accompanied by a Scotsman w/ a Scottish burr, quite appealing...sorry, I got distracted! The best part was actually Katie MacAlister's quirky sense of humor. DO NOT READ THIS BOOK IN PUBLIC!
I snorted, giggled, and down-right groaned at some of the situations that Kathie Williams finds herself in. There was really no reading this silently. I think the humor is what made this book worth reading!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Plotting Vs. Revisions

I have a conundrum....I have been plotting book 2, moderately, here and there. I need to revise TCH (book 1). But as I plot on book 2, I have been finding things that I need to change, or ad to TCH, as the two main characters in book 2 are "supporting" characters in TCH.

The more I think about it, the more I lean toward taking that class that starts the 28th. It is called "Plotting Your Novel". I honestly think it might be best to fully plot out book 2 before I do revisions on the first book.

It was amazing how much I learned from the first class I took. My instructor, the esteemed, award winning author, Mel Odom, must have thought I was a complete moron through half the class!

I argued over half of what he said, then weeks, sometimes MONTHS later would say, "Ohhhhhh I get it now! I really DIDN'T have a plot.....Ohhhhhhhhhh, I DO need to read what I write.......Ohhhhhhhh, I guess I can't kill all the main characters off!"

Okay, okay, I am a bit set in my ways, and like an old dog, resist learning new tricks. Now I realize just how little I actually do know, and thirst for that fountain of knowledge that can only be provided by other's who have been there, done that!

My excuses for not doing revisions are flying out the window, and perhaps this is just one more attempt to avoid that daunting task. My co-conspirator, Lisa, whom I would have NEVER finished TCH without her constant NAGGING (she called it encouragement, I call it nagging!), is the most well-read individual I know. She not only reads, she reads about the authors, how they write, how they got published, etc...and even though her degree IS from OSU, I think her minor was in writing.....She is the one who suggested plotting out book 2 before I finished revisions, for the exact reason I mentioned....God, I hate not knowing everything, but what's worse, is I hate to ADMIT not knowing everything....It's a girl thing!

Anyhoo, just working out my next course of action, and decided I would blog about it...might be neat in a few decades, when I too am an "esteemed, award winning author" to be able to look back and see how I struggled!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Why most heroines in romance novels are YOUNG

Has anyone noticed the lack of middle aged romance novel heroines? My opinion is that most readers are middle aged, and want to live vicariously through a YOUNG heroine. What fun would it be to relate on a physical level with a heroine your own age?

If you're me...NONE! I want to remember the time when I was young, carefree, NO KIDS, no wrinkles, no gray hair, no body parts that are south of the equator when they used to be north, etc. My first heroine in TCH is young young young! Naive too. Gotta love ignorance, it is truly bliss. She does have to do a lot of growing up the hard way, but don't we all?

Now book 2....Josephine is a few years older, and far more wiser to the ways of the world. She didn't lead a sheltered life, as Margaret in TCH did. She's still got all her body parts in the right region though! That takes us to book 3. I think I mentioned Duncan McCue. He is a more mature hero, hence the need for a mature heroine. Lady Victoria Sinclair, Margaret's newly widowed mother, is that heroine. She will be the middle-aged woman that the rest of us would strive to be. Slim, beautiful, and with NO STRETCH MARKS! Not even sure I will give her any gray hair.

I tried to explain comments from my previous post to my husband (the part about all the men being well-endowed raised an eyebrow). Romance novels are fairy tales for us grown-ups. By the time we hit our late teens, most of us are disillusioned females. Where the hell is Prince Charming? Who beat us to him? WTF? Enlightenment about the way the world works is often a depressing thing. Not that there aren't some fabulous guys out there, just not many of even the best ones would measure up in EVERY way to a hero in a romance. Face it, we all have flaws, men and women.

I suppose I am wallowing in my self-pity and mortality as yet another birthday has arrived. Why they always seem so depressing to me, I can't quite pin down. Not sure if it's being faced with your own mortality, or the fact that I have not accomplished my elusive dream of becoming published yet.

This birthday I am going to take control. My goal is to have TCH not only revised, but in the grubby, money-hungry hands of an agent, who has signed to represent me, knowing that I may not be the next Nora Roberts, but at least I can crank out palatable historical romance novels that will sell. I have read and read (yes, Mel, I also finally got that part of class....READ WHAT YOU WRITE), and I can tell you, some of the drivel that makes it into print is not worth the ink on the paper!

Having said that, I definitely know what I want to write, and what I don't! My revisions will fix a few problems, such as character development that was sorely lacking. My later characters seemed to develop on their own, the more I wrote, the easier it became, but WOW! Those first dozen or about lacking character development on my hero! UGH! I wondered why everyone who read it liked Frederick better than Patrick(hero)...and let's not even talk about Duncan McCue (okay, just a quick line about how hot he is, and how much hotter he's gonna be as a pirate...ARG!)

Well, I certainly feel so much better. It's good to be able to talk to yourself! LOL Onward and upward we go! Now that I have this written for all the world to see, I better get busy and start making those characters POP! What scares me is when you submit to an agent/publisher, they want a query, synopsis, and approx. the first 3 chapters, which in my case, amount to a steaming load of dog....well, you get the point!

Time to make the first equal to the last chapters!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Jump start to revisions

Okay, I decided that it was high time that I did something to get involved again! I have been thinking about taking another class on writing, there is one that starts on the 28th, but haven't made my mind up.

I have been completely stagnant when it comes to revisions on The Crichton Heir (TCH). The first dozen or so chapters were so horribly written, that I cringe when I think about revising them. I have however been busy plotting book 2.

I have also made the decision to rename one of my minor characters from TCH. I was gonna kill the poor guy off (I know Mel, you can't go killing everybody off....that much I did actually pay attention to!), but now he is screaming to have his own book, so hence the name change.

I needed a strong hero type with a sexier name (i.e. Duncan McCue....God I love that character, can't wait til I start book 3 about him!) The original name was Frederick, but I never really warmed to that name. I can't see myself (or anyone for that matter), screaming "Oh Frederick, take me Frederick!". I can however see, picture, and hear someone screaming "Oh Sloane, take me now Sloane!". Not that I actually have lines quite that cheesy, but I do hope you get the drift here. Sexy man, needs a sexy name! Laird Sloane Sinclair sounds absolutely divine to me....I know if he had a kilt on, along with that name, I could actually overlook a few physical flaws, although we all know in romance, we get to pretend that the men are all perfect and well-endowed, and the women don't have fat thighs or saggy boobage!

Okay, I feel better now, so I will try and update here regularly, not because I expect great masses to read this, but at least I can chart my own progress, as I make it!