Friday, January 30, 2009

Puppy Update

I was reading on Paperback Writer this morning about Lynn Viehl's new superdog, Cole, and realized I hadn't updated you on Dusty's progress.


Well, I went to D.C. for two weeks and missed two weeks of his puppyness. Oh, how I hate that. I came back and he had grown into a minature grown Pom and fiesty is not the word. The little idiot still sleeps through the night but his Aunt Christine spoiled him a little with some Caesar dog food in the octagonal shaped can and now Purina isn't good enough. I think he'd rather starve.

He has quite a temper which comes out when it's time to go outside. I want to get him used to a training leash because we live on the bayou and he's already showing a propensity for tearing down the hill to the bank which this Summer will probalby sport an alligator or two. Tear my heart out! Yes, he's going to get used to playing on a long leash. Not to mention the rattlesnakes and other varmits that can be hazardous to a little dog's health. But the temper doesn't come out except when he wants to play and doesn't get his way. Most of the time he just plays, entertaining himself with the house full of toys which have turned this into BABY ZONE!


CFM said he sometimes wishes he hadn't answered that ad in December. But he also said he missed us a LOT when we were gone for two weeks. Yes, puppies, like babies are tremendously time consuming. I never had a baby so now I can definitely relate to everything I've heard. And my favorite time of day lately has been Dusty's nap time.

Sometimes you see it coming.










And sometimes all you see is the crash...



look at his cute little feet. I swear the thing that grew the most on him were his nose and feet.

I'd also like to say - Congratulations to my friend Leah Braemel for hitting the number one spot three days after her book, Private Property, debued on Samhain.

Paperback Writer: Writing with Pets

Paperback Writer: Writing with Pets

Sunday, January 25, 2009

An Interview with Leah Braemel


I'm here today with my friend and CP, Leah Braemel, to discuss her upcoming release Private Property, coming out on January 27th from Samhain Publishing. Leah and I met at Margie Lawson's online class, Deep Edits, and struck up a very successful partnership. But Leah, a Canadian author, has been writing for years and needs less and less critiquing.

Marley: Leah, how do you pronouce your last name?

Leah: I pronounce it Bray-mel’ with the emphasis on the ‘mel’ but if you want to pronounce it Bre-mel or Brahmel that’s fine too, just as long as you buy my book, LOL.

Marley: Could you tell us a little about your path to publication? I remember this time last year you despaired of even being able to write. (She wrote about that and about her life near Toronto on her very entertaining blog.)

Leah: Oh, wow, this could take a while. I’ve written since I was in elementary school, though I’ve never shown anyone my writing after one disastrous critique by my big sister (she was probably correct in everything she said, but when you’re seven, being told “this sucks” stings.) Around 2004, I met my now-critique partner, Sue, on a non-writing-related MSN group and we started chatting. She told me she was hoping to get published and before I knew it, I was showing her some of my writing. For the next year she bugged me and prodded me to join a writers’ group and get serious about my writing. It took me until 2007 before I finally decided to try to submit anything to a publisher. I submitted my first manuscript – a paranormal shapeshifter story – in July 2007 to a publisher who shall remain nameless. By July 2008 I had a contract for Private Property, which is a contemporary erotica, a complete change of my usual style.

Marley: When did Private Property come into being? What's it about?

Leah: Although I prefer my romances with the bedroom door wide open, I’d never considered writing erotica until Sue challenged me to write one in the spring of 2007. When I visited her and my other critique partner, Dani, in Dallas that summer, I was standing on Dani’s dock on Lake Arlington, looking at the amazing houses surrounding her and wondered … what type of security must these folks have? In my regular twisted-author’s fashion, I then started wondering about the people protecting them, and wondered how I could make an erotica out of it and … well, next thing I knew, the seeds of Private Property were sewn.

But I didn’t start writing it until October of 2007. I’d watched The Italian Job around that time, and I liked the idea of a woman breaking in to safes the way Cameron Diaz does, and so my heroine is Jodi Tyler, a security specialist who breaks into estates to prove their security needs upgrading. Her latest assignment is to break into a house on the shores of Lake Arlington and leave a note in the office safe to prove to the owner his security is flawed. What she doesn’t know is she’s being set up by her boss, Mark Rodriguez. He and Jodi have been having a no-strings-attached affair and he’s decided to fulfil some of her sexual fantasies for her birthday by inviting his best friend and future business partner, Sam Watson, to have a ménage with them.

Of course, as a writer, it was my duty to torture them so I decided that Sam would turn the tables on Mark and teach him that there were some things – including Mark’s relationship with Jodi – that should be considered Private Property.

Marley: Sam seemed so sexy to me. I couldn't help but think of one actor in particular. Did you have someone in mind?

Leah: When Jodi first meets him, he’s standing in silhouette, and I had an image of Laurence Fishburne in the Matrix – lots of leather and a dangerous air about him. As I wrote his dialogue though, his sense of humor started showing through and gradually he morphed into Dwayne Johnson (The Rock). At that time, I had in mind that he was a professional football player, but that changed as I realized that there needed to be some tension between Mark and Sam too – so Sam became a very successful former FBI agent who now owns the biggest personal protection agency on the east coast and is in the process of buying Mark’s business out..

Marley: You live in a house with three men. How does that affect your writing? Tell us about the three men in your life. Do you find that it helps with the man's point of view? How does it affect your process, I mean, they are men.

Leah: I think being the only woman in the house gives me a bit of an insight into how men think. Apart from enduring the sock throwing contests and the belching contests, at least if I’m unsure of how a guy would react, I have three ready sources to quiz. Other than that, they’ve been incredibly supportive. My eldest took script writing in college so he’s a good source when I need to talk the ‘technical’ side of writing. My husband and youngest have ended up writing their own novels. My husband has written everything from short stories to a novel length thriller a la Stephen Coonts, and my youngest has finished a 50K urban fantasy YA, and is writing its sequel. So quite often around our house we now have conversations about writing – anything from grammar to point-of-view and internal versus external conflict.

Marley: You have a free story over on Samhain right?

Leah: I wrote a short story called First Night that introduces readers to how the two main characters in Private Property, Jodi and Mark, began their affair one New Year’s Eve. It’s available as a free download over at The Samhellion newsletter webpage - click here.

I also recently signed a second contract with Samhain for Sam’s story, Personal Protection, that will be the start of a series following the bodyguards of Sam’s company, Hauberk Protection. Personal Protection will be released in May of this year, but I don’t have an exact date yet.

Marley: Is there anything else you dream of writing or that is in the works?

Leah: I have all sorts of things ‘in the works’. First off, I’m writing a sequel to Personal Protection (AKA Sam’s story) that follows Andy Walters, one of Sam’s bodyguards. But in the wings is a paranormal shapeshifter story called Delving Deep, but while that will be hot, it probably won’t be erotica, just a good paranormal romance. I also have another one which will be more of an urban fantasy, but given my schedule it’ll probably be a while before I get to it unfortunately. If I do ever have a moment, I also have a Canadian historical based on the rebellion of 1838 … and another I’ve been toying with in the same location in the war of 1812 – but given that the Americans are the bad guys in it, I doubt I’d find an American publisher, LOL.

I’ve also been toying with the idea of writing an ongoing story and posting weekly chapters on my Yahoo group that only members can read. I’m thinking of making it a paranormal, but I’m going to be asking readers on my blog and on other blogs where I post what they like to read and that may influence what I finally write.

Thanks for stopping by, Leah. I look forward to Private Property's release and the rest of the guys (okay, I'm prejudiced) especially Sam's, stories. If you haven't visited Leah's blog, you're missing some stellar information, including her trip to the biker bar to get information for Sam's story.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Cicero on food

One should eat to live, not live to eat. ~Cicero, Rhetoricorum LV

So this issue really is as old as time.

First Night














First Night is the free book by Leah Braemel, my critique partner, which is being offered over on Samhellion this month. If you click on the words First Night you will have your very own Leah Braemel book, in advance of her debut book, Private Property, which comes out on January 27th from Samhain Publishing.

Join us Sunday, January 25th when Leah guest blogs. Happy New Year, Leah and congratulations on already having a great 2009!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Will power

Don't dig your grave with your own knife and fork. ~English Proverb

Whew! That's short but profound. We have the power to control a lot of our well being through the way we manage our diet and activity. The question is do we have the discipline? I struggle with that everyday.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Hometown Inauguration

It's awesome to see a site like this - reminds me of why it was so exciting to grow up here.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Taste but don't swallow

Eat as much as you like--just don't swallow it. ~ Steve Burns

You know that's not the worst advice. I remember when I was on Weight Watchers and I was counting points. I could have anything I wanted as long as I counted the points and didn't go over, hmm, I think it was 26. So if I popped something into my mouth and it wasn't that good, I'd say, why waste the points and I'd just spit it out into the nearest trash can.

Those points had to count for something when you had so few.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Those smart ass Californians

You're thinking I'm one of those wise-ass California vegetarians who is going to tell you that eating a few strips of bacon is bad for your health. I'm not. I say it's a free country and you should be able to kill yourself at any rate you choose, as long as your cold dead body is not blocking my driveway. ~ Scott Adams

Funny, but that excess weight can be life threatening. Here's to everyone who is struggling today for a healthier lifestyle. Keep on pluggin.

Being Home



Pretty picture of the cherry blossoms but not reality this trip. 10 degrees this morning..

Washington at Inauguration Time

Lots of stuff going on that make it inconvenient to get around but still I love being home. Love driving the streets where I grew up and worked. Love looking out over the balcony of my aunt's condo and seeing the Washington Monument in the distance.




I love watching the bumper to bumper traffic on the morning news report. And I even love the cold weather. As a matter of fact I pray for it and there it is. Yesterday, it was the first time since 1996 that it was a high of under 20 degrees. Last time I visited there was an unexpected three foot blizzard. My friend said, quit praying for cold, pray for money.

Tuesday morning I went to Einstein Bagel. Oh man, have I missed Einsteins. Like a kid purchasing his own candy for the first time with his own money, I stood at the counter looking for my favorite Asiago Cheese bagel and the ONLY cream cheese shmear - Jalapeno salsa. Then I sat outside at an iron table in my Careful or you'll Wind up in my Novel sweatshirt, garnering odd looks and thumbs up.

Just savoring being here. Sure, Washington's changed from the city of my youth with its influx of non English speaking citizens, even wider lanes of traffic, non-stop development of high rises and expensive homes. But it's also remarkably unchanged in its purpose and core reason for being - government.

No Washington is not perfect but it's my hometown as every one knows, there's no place like home.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Miss Piggy wisdom

Never eat more than you can lift. ~ Miss Piggy

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Fiction Reading is UP


What GREAT news, unexpected to some but editors have been saying for months that when the economy suffers people read to escape and what better genre to read but romance.

When I opened the Washington Post, just another perk of being home, I saw this article

'Survey shows Reversal of Longstanding Trend' The National Endowment for the Arts stated. For the first time ... since the NEA began keeping track of American's reading habits in 1982 - less that five years after it issued its famously gloomy "Reading at Risk" report - the percentage of American adults who report reading "novels, short stories, poems, or plays" has risen instead of declining: from 46.7 percent in 2002 to 50.2 percent in 2008!'

It says the most significant rise is in young adult reading, due to books like Harry Potter and Twilight. '"Literary" isn't meant to imply "Highbrow". The NEA survey includes all fiction genres, including thrillers and romance novels.

Mysteries emerged this year as the most popular genre. The gain occurred in prose fiction, not dram and poetry.'

Unfortunately the percentage of adults reading ANY book not associated with work still declined by two percent. (Not surprising. Have you ever tried to make a reader out of a non-reading family member. It's a painful, tedious, often unsuccessful process.)

But all in all this is great news for our industry. It brings me hope as an unpublished author that there's still time and access for me to get my name on the spine of a book sold in Barnes and Noble or Borders or Amazon or a cover on a reputable epublisher.

Monday, January 12, 2009

A different perspective

People are so worried about what they eat between Christmas and the New Year, but they really should be worried about what they eat between the New Year and Christmas. ~Author Unknown

Isn't that true, we concentrate on the short holiday season where if we'd set new patterns for the year we could withstand the occasional indulgence.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Quote of the day - diets

Seize the moment. Remember all those women on the 'Titanic' who waved off the dessert cart. ~ Erma Bombeck

While that might be true, most of us won't go down with the Titanic and will be most happy that we aren't our biggest size ever when we meet our ex's next wife. Of course that might be a good time to find a dessert cart.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Quick weight loss

Thank you for calling the Weight Loss Hotline. If you'd like to lose a half pound right now, press 1 eighteen thousand times. ~ Randy Glasbergen

Going home

Sitting in the hotel room in New Orleans trying to ignore the blaring sounds of the movie, Gladiator, while I type this blog.

You know, there's something intrinsically basic in men that goes back to the cave. You'd think that all these years of civilization would have tamed the species but whether its a shootem up western, a Dirty Harry, or a medieval war the more noise and blood and guts the deeper CFM is entrenched in the tale.

And I'm going, give me some quiet.

Anyway, we're here because I'm flying home to D.C. tomorrow for two weeks! I'm so excited. I haven't been home in four years. I'll be staying the first week with my 'Aunt' Chloe who gave me my first bath in a mixing bowl. She lives in a high rise that overlooks D.C. in Falls Church, Va. Four years ago I lived with her while I worked in the Herndon area after the hurricanes. I enjoyed the relationship we had, calling her 'Mom' having lost my mother 11 years ago to ovarian cancer. So, I'm really looking forward to seeing her again.

I hope to get to one of my favorite haunts, Panera Bread. The one I like is in old town, in an older building with a fireplace in the center of a room of overstuffed couches and chairs. One can enjoy free wireless while savoring their wonderful soups and sandwiches.

One night I hope to catch my friend CJ from northern Virginia and one day possibly meet out with Navy Guy's wife and kids.



Since there's a 'somewhat' special event happening in DC next week, I will travel south to Prince Frederick to see my dear friend, SheGeek (the Bill Gates of a large government agency) for a week of shopping and visiting. Then we'll drive up to Sherperdstown to see the new baby and I get to meet a fellow writer who lives up that way whom I met on our Goals loop.

I'm going to be collecting the sights and sounds of my hometown in the throes of change and the excitement of the inauguration.

SO I won't be posting regularly for the next couple weeks. Aunt Chloe has dialup. And you KNOW how I feel about dialup. I'll just have to stay off the internet to avoid tossing the computer through the high rise window.

Sounds like a good time to write, huh?

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

More praise for Leah's new book

Leah Braemel, my fabulous critique partner, has a new book coming out from Samhain Publishing on January 27, 2009. You have just got to read it. It smokes!


Today the editor at Samhain, Angela James said on the James Gang blog,


"Leah is an extremely talented author and she’ll be one to watch as she builds her career."


Well, I knew that...

Catch her here on the 25th and pick up her new book from Samhain on the 27th.

Denial

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Exerwriters

Writers who want to get healthy unite! It seems that we are all of a mind to make changes in our lifestyle. Would you like to go from this?















To this?



Me, too.

You know those little progress meters we put on our websites to show how our wips are coming along? Well, I went looking for an exercise progress meter and found this nifty little widget which takes you to FitLink.com. My fitness plan involves dance, daily treks on the treadmill, casual writer walks, and plain old fashioned exercise like stretches and walking in place, pushups. So I personalized my widget with these exercises.



Isn't that cool?
On FitLink you can search for workouts, create routes in your area, and interact with others who share your goals or activities. I created a group called Exerwriters for writers who share common lifestyles and goals. Anyone can join, no invitation needed (for now). But you don't have to join to download the widget and get started.

Simply click on create a log on your widget and it will take you to the FitLink page where you choose your activity. Treadmill is under cardio. When you add the workout it takes you to a page to enter your progress. Fill in the stats and Save the changes.

Whether you download the widget, join the group or simply do something each day to become more healthy, I wish you success! Any small steps we make on that journey are building blocks to future if not present success. See you on the treadmill.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Its official



Belieeeeve me, it isn't often you see him like this. He's too big for his Daddy's hat but he loves trying to curl up in it.

CFM has been telling me all along that his name was Dusty but I've been trying to come up with something more - oh, I don't know - special. I mean really, you can't look at him and not say Awwww! But he doesn't respond to any of the names but Dusty, so I finally broke down and let these men have their way. Of course he has to have THREE names so Now the search is on for the last two.

Dusty Maximillian? Dusty Sebastian? Dusty Bear? Dusty MacTavish of Boggy Bayou. SHeesh!

Today CFM and I rigged up his playpen. I bought one of those old timey playpens with the rungs 5 inches apart so we had to figure out a way to board up the sides to make him a bigger play area. He loves it. Today he got his foot caught in a glue trap and screamed for me. I had to just apply a steady pressure to get it loose. He did not like it. So I went around the living room blocking off every path available to a four inch pup, hopefully.

I'm trying to make things as easy as possible for CFM when I go out of town for two weeks and he's left with the baby, literally. He didn't realize how much work a puppy would be, just wanted to do something nice for me for Christmas. Poor thing, he will have his hands full.

Goals for 2009

I'm late posting my goals for the year. My work life is changing a lot this year with many of my 'jobs' - computer classes, singing, insurance and mail delivery all creating a better environment for work. I could wind up with an office away from the house to work or write.

I'd have to say my first and foremost goal would be to try to find a balance between scheduling work, writing, and physical activity. Bring it all together into one cohesive plan.

~Record a vocal CD! I could have done this when I was 16. Well, better late than never.

~Study the publishing industry for better understanding of who to target.
~Revise FIMB and submit in February.
~Attend Nola Stars in March - pitch OTHR.
~Finish RCM first draft.
~Attend Southern Magic in April to pitch RCM.
~Work hard to justify attending either DC-RWA in July or GRW in October
~Submit more to agents/publishers.
~Start new paranormal.
~Revise OTHR completely and submit.
~Finish AMC and submit.
~Find an agent
~Learn to do a better job of pre-world building,
characters, concept
~Update website, renew commitment to blogging regularly, and
participating in fellow authors projects and blogs
~Simplify, unclutter my home space and life so that I can achieve
these goals
~Get an editor/agent to request a full manuscript this year
~Learn more about author marketing strategies
~Setup handouts and marketing for computer classes
~Attend training for insurance products
~Find out about strategies for managing ADD so I can create more daily
structure in my life
~Setup a reminder system.
~Deal with interruptions and change more gracefully.

I want to be more present and proactive, concentrating on the positive
constructive energy and expecting the best for 2009!

Each month - break each of these goals down at the beginning of the
month into weekly and daily goals

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Wanna get in shape?





Set up a profile on FitLink.com and go to the Exerwriters group to join our group Exerwriters. I will send you an invitation and you'll be ready. You can choose your daily activities and log your progress on your blog like mine on the right. Not as simple as what I was looking for but I need something to stay accountable and create a regular habit.

BTW that is 22 minutes NOT 22 hours, lol, and actually, I haven't gotten on the treadmill yet today, but I promise I will or I'll take that progress down. I also plan to add about 15 min of dance and some simple exercise for flexibility and strength to my workout. They may not happen every day.

What do you think? Do you know of a simple way to track exercise progress on your blog? I need to get this in place because other than delivering hundreds of pounds of mail the last several days, I haven't done anything so far this year to get in shape. Once I get on a treadmill habit, I start listening to music and my creative juices get flowing and I get fit as a wonderful side bene.

Join me and Leah in making this THE year we get healthier.

Two 2008 reviews

Mine first:
Some of my goals last year were to attend a conference, pitch OTHR and FIMB, get a request for something from an agent or editor, Start the RCM book and work on sequels to OTHR.

Even with the bad job experience from August to mid November that drained all my creativity, I managed to accomplish most of that.
I submitted my manuscripts as requested to an agent from the conference but never heard anything.
Submitted to a publisher and the editor sent me a very helpful and encouraging rejection letter.
Qualified for PRO status.
Had my website professionally redesigned by Rae Monet.
After struggling with NWPBIC (No wanna put butt in chair), because of the support of my CPs, especially Leah and Cadence, I began RCM.
Entered two contests with decent results.
Lost twenty pounds and kept fifteen of it off.

Another perspective on 2008. Uncle Jay explains the News!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Giving in

I live in internet H**L. For the last week my internet has been so slow, I'm talking sometimes several minutes for one page to come up. I thought it was the weather. But when I called Wild Blue Satellite tech support I was informed in a condescending tone by the tech support person, that I had exceeded my 'threshold'. I still don't believe it but the point is that we live in a rural community where there are two options, either slow satellite or slower dialup. Of course you can get dialup for $5.00 a month with your AT&T package but you will go insane...IN SANE waiting on the pages to load.


So, I was told I'd have to wait until my time gradually built up and no one wanted to venture a guess as to how long that would be. I thought about upgrading but it's $20 more per month and it's already too much. But I realized that part of the reason I don't get to blog or visit sites is because of the slow connection. I pay $60 a month for the mid range package, which apparently isn't enough for the average person.

I was going to be proud and resist the upgrade but I could not deal with it. I had a contract waiting, quotes to order, leads and books to download, bills to pay, and email to tend to. So, NOW, I'll be paying $80 a month, in addition to the $86 a month for phone service, and $88 a month cell phone for only 750 minutes. It makes me want to wake the Governor out of a sound sleep and beg him to bring Louisiana into the age of technology.

Just try to do without internet for two days and you'll find out how dependent we are on it these days. There should be an amendment to the Bill of Rights, everyone should be able to get fast internet and cell phone communication for resonable prices no matter where they live. At this point, I'd almost give up the TV or long distance and the extra cell phone before downgrading again.

People in rural communities are penalized for living away from the city. We pay more for phone and tv, more for internet, more for gas to get back and forth to work. More for groceries because there isn't as much competition. We have six grocery stores in the three cities near us and they belong to the same chain.

Okay, so this has turned into a rant. I guess I need to call Governor Jindal and some of these politicians who promised high speed internet to all citizens no matter where they live..

Tell me about your internet, is it cable, satellite, or dsl? Go ahead make me just want to puke. How much do you pay? Or are you in the same boat I'm in.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

A True Romance

What year did this book win the Golden Heart?

My contribution to the world of romance writing this week. You've probably seen this hilarious video. I just had to have it handy where I could watch it every now and then for a quick pickmeup.
Happy New Year!