Thursday, November 29, 2012

Time to Crack the Whip

Get back to work!
This is my second favorite time of year. Yeah, it's colder, and drearier. We have to rake and clean the gutters (again and again) and after that everything just looks a little bleak.

But it's still football season, and rivalries are heating up. Sundays are exciting. The girls are starting indoor soccer this weekend, which is always fun to watch. And, of course, we have the holidays.

This year, I didn't do NaNoWriMo (could have, but not in a position to start a new book). My freelance work slowed down, and the stream at my day job slowed a little, too, for various reasons. I've drifted through the month, doing what needed to be done but not as much of the non-urgent stuff as I intended.

That's got to change.

I did start Christmas shopping early, so that part isn't going to be heavy pressure, as long as I don't get cocky. :) After losing 17 pounds I got lazy and stopped counting calories, but I've still paid attention and haven't gained back even a tenth of a pound. I'm going to be vigilant over the holidays but won't worry about budgeting until we get through the difficult period. Difficult meaning I don't want to go to author lunches and family meals and parties and spend the whole time going, "do you know how many calories are in this dip?" Moderation is the rule, with a focus on not eating when I'm not hungry. More challenging with patients keep bringing in cookies, so there's one whip to be cracked.

Another is productivity. I'm struggling with my time management. Like yesterday, we had a staff meeting after work, so by the time I got home I had just enough time to do the dishes and put away my laundry before I had to go pick up Number Two at school. Then I went to the gym with Number One, came home, took a quick shower, made dinner, ate, had to go back to the school to pick up Market Day (a grocery fundraiser for the schools). By the time I got my client work done, it was after 9:00 p.m. I have to figure out what I'm going to do with that. Get up earlier, force myself to work later and hope it's not dreck because of temporary brain death, or push myself to do one page here, a paragraph there. That's always easier when you're writing fresh and can take it anywhere, though. When you're editing, you have to keep details straight, and get into the world of the story, and be locked to your computer. Minutes at a time aren't very efficient.

But where I really need to crack the whip is in the story itself. I'm working on two. In one, I don't think the big breach is serious enough. I keep going back, but until this very second haven't hit on the solution. It just hit me that I have the problem occurring too early. I just need to move it to a little later, and I think it will work out perfectly. I can stop struggling to create conflict and it will happen more naturally. Yay!

The other project is Soulflight, which was written and set aside long ago. Unlike book 1 in The Soul Series, Soul of the Dragon, I haven't updated this book several times over the years. So it needs a lot of updating.

I thought going into it that it would just mean tweaking technology references and stuff, and that's how I started. But I'm not going far enough. The fact that YouTube didn't exist then and plays such a huge role in our lives now means it is integral to the plot.

So I need to get tough and not take the easy way out, trying to fit the pieces that are there into the new reality. No, I have to dig in there and put a lot more pressure on my heroine. She has to be more afraid, more in danger, more desperate. I've always struggled with making things challenging for my characters, but now that I know what I have to do, it feels better.

So I'd better get back to it!

Is there anything you need to be harder on yourself about right now?

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Fall TV 2012

I haven't picked up too many new shows this season, and I've already dropped a couple that I started.

1. The Failures
I watched the first episode of Partners. It was eh. I like the actors, but it just wasn't fresh enough. Also tried The New Normal, and got a few weeks into that one. But I got tired of the "issue of the week" preaching. I don't watch sitcoms to have a message pounded into my head, especially one ("everyone has valid points, even, or especially, if they don't think the way you do") that I already hold. We tried Last Resort, which had potential but would get kind of weird at odd moments. We watched 2 episodes of that, I think, and had 4 or 5 recorded when we heard they'd canceled it. So I dropped that off our season pass.

We also dropped The Mentalist this year. Bored. Tired of Red John. The end of last season was compelling, but what we loved best about Patrick Jane in early seasons was gone. We've had conflicts timing-wise with other shows, so we just deleted it.

2. The Successes
Arrow has to top the list. It's not super-fantastic, but somehow, it's the show that I think about most during the week. I love the potential I see in it, for all the people around him to join his crusade. I do want it to expand beyond the list in his book, which it seems like it's already doing. Flashbacks have been all the rage since Lost, but these are intriguing. I want to know how he got the way he is, especially from such a ridiculously opposite extreme.

I'm also enjoying Revolution. Number Two is loving it, too. It's her replacement for Terra Nova. :) Charlie's forehead does a lot of independent acting, but either I'm getting used to it, or she's getting a little more subtle. It's not her fault, really, that she has fifty more muscles in that section of her face than the rest of us do. :) Billy Burke has been a revelation for me. I wasn't excited to hear about his casting, but he's been tremendous as Miles. And if I hadn't already been hooked, they'd have had me with Colin Ford a couple of weeks ago, as the second-in-command to a group of kids left on their own after the militia murdered all their parents. Yes, this is a dark show.

So it's good that Go On is not! I mean, yeah, it's about a guy whose wife died, who's so depressed he was forced to join a support group, but it's FUNNY! I think the cast has good chemistry, and the characters are just quirky enough to keep us entertained without being silly or unreal. You've got to love Matthew Perry, of course, to love the show, and luckily, I do. :)

The other new show I just picked up is Wedding Band on TBS. Gabe Tigerman, who played Andy on Supernatural, had tweeted that his wife is in the show. I have a soft spot for him after he sat with us for hours in the hotel bar at the first NJ Salute to Supernatural convention, and as an author seeking an audience, I get how hard it is for a show like that to get a toehold. Still, I didn't get serious about watching it until I saw that Brian Austin Green was the lead. Yeah, there's nostalgia for my young adult days with Beverly Hills 90210, but really, I fell for BAG when he was on The Sarah Connor Chronicles. His character is MUCH different, which makes me sad (I miss the moody, intense man of action), but I enjoyed the pilot and think it's a keeper.

3. The Rest
So many returning shows! I won't blah blah blah about all of them. The older ones I'm routinely enjoying, if not dying to get to every week, are How I Met Your Mother, Bones, Hawaii 5-O, New Girl, Fringe, Glee, Covert Affairs, Once Upon a Time and Big Bang Theory. Nothing revelatory in any of those.

Revenge isn't quite as tight and satisfying as last season, but my boss and I are still eager to discuss it every week. It's fun to try to figure out motivations, and I'm enjoying Emily's new softness, her recognition that she can be merciful and compassionate. Of course, then she makes a guy confess to murder and go to jail, but no one changes overnight.

Haven is probably my most compelling show right now. The ticking clock has definitely upped the suspense. The look on Nathan's face every time Audrey touches him still kills me—but I admit, with not a small amount of guilt, that Duke's "friendship" with her has me by the throat. Gotta love a delicious love triangle. I like Jordan (but not too much) and the shrink (love her!), too. Nice to have some balance, gender-wise.

Nikita and Castle top my list, too. They've twisted everything up and made it fresh, which means both are still very compelling. On Nikita, the turnaround on Division has given them some new kinds of cases and new relationships, while on Castle, having Rick and Kate together has been fantastic. It's so awesome to see her *happy*, and him in love. And the secondary cast is as great as always. 

Then there's Supernatural, of course. I'm on the fence about it. There's a lot that I love—Cas, Benny, Mrs. Tran, Crowley, Garth, the Big New Goal—but I'm disappointed in the writers for slapping on a conflict that makes no sense, just to keep "tension" between the brothers. Having them acting out of character to give them something to be mad about is SOOOOOOOOOOOO tedious compared to previous seasons' tension due to their deep, disastrous brotherly love and mutual drive to save the world. After 7 years, can't they just be brothers? Can't they start to heal?

We're on Doctor Who hiatus, but I thought they did a fantastic job with Rory and Amy's exit, as much as it broke my heart. I LOVED the actress/character from the season opener, so I'm sure I'll love the new companion, too, even though she's a different character. I don't know if the big storyline that they've only teased will be as huge and fantastic as in the previous two seasons, but it's got me hooked.

I'm probably forgetting something somewhere. What shows are top of your list this season?

Monday, November 19, 2012

News and More News!

So things have been (still, despite my best intentions) very quiet around here. We had some good guest blog posts (check them out below) with more to come. But *I* haven't had very much to say, have I?

But it's not like I haven't been up to anything! There's so much neeeewwwwwsssss!

1. Trip to Boston
Part of the reason for no new posts is travel and the pressure that puts on your work schedule. I took Number One to Boston for a couple of college visits. Very successful trip! On the way home, we stopped at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro. Partly because I can't go to eastern Massachusetts without stopping. Partly because she's never been. So we peeked through the gate and shopped in the pro shop and ate in CBS Scene. Of course, the Patriots were in London, so there was no chance of a glimpse of anyone. *sigh*

2. New Website
I have been in dire need of a new website for a long time. What I had was clean and could be navigated without too much confusion, but it was also dull and had become cumbersome over the years. I had to change my hosting to a WordPress-friendly product, which took down my old site, so I've had to rebuild fairly quickly. I'm taking a class while I do it, and I keep finding myself tweaking links and HTML and CSS and looking up an hour later. See what you think!

3. The Soul Series
I've also started self-publishing the "series of my heart." Many of you have heard the term "book of your heart." That's something they tell new authors to write. Not to write to trends, or what you think you should, but the book that's residing deep in your heart. All of my books have been that, but Soul of the Dragon was my first one. There were problems that kept it from being acquired by a publisher. I've revised it over the years to address some of those, but some of the things that keep it from fitting a rigid definition of romance are still there. I hope that doesn't keep people from liking it, but I'd love to hear from anyone who gives it a try. The second book in the series, Soulflight, I hope to have out in a couple of weeks, with the other two books to follow on an undetermined schedule.

4. EPIC's eBook Awards
I was very excited to find out that Acceptable Risks, my most recent romantic adventure from Carina Press, was a finalist in the 2013 EPIC eBook awards. I have stiff competition in the romantic suspense category, and can't wait to see who wins. Check out the full list of finalists here. The winners will be announced in March 2013, at EPICon.

So that's it for now! Tell me what you've been up to, help me catch up!

Speaking of catching up, in a couple of days I'll post my long-overdue thoughts on the new fall TV season. :)

Sunday, November 04, 2012

On the Funny Side of the Moon

Please welcome one of my best friends, Misty Simon, as my guest blogger today!

Several years ago, I remember being at a Romance Writers of America conference and feeling hopeless about the current market. Would I ever sell again? Everything I was reading, from industry news to current releases, seemed to be dark and angsty – dark paranormal, angsty women’s fiction, dark and angsty contemporaries. While I love reading these things, writing them was never and will never be my forte. I know life isn’t all about sunshine and rainbows and happy unicorns, but it seemed that readers wanted to be driven to the depths of despair and I just was not built to write that.

Poor Natalie had to read my attempt at writing a dark paranormal and let’s just say that it is still hidden somewhere on my hard drive and leave it at that, shall we?

But I persevered. I told a group of authors at that conference that I wanted to still be writing when we got back to the light side of the moon. And here I am, happy as a clam. I find that more and more readers want to laugh, they want to snicker, and they want to guffaw. I try hard to provide all that and a good story.

What’s Life Without the Sprinkles? was actually the first book I ever wrote. Believe me when I say it looks and reads nothing like it did in its first draft almost ten years ago. At that point I think I had seven points of view and a totally clichéd story line. But I wrote and rewrote and wrote other things in between. I published many things, too, but this story will always have a special place in my heart. 

Claudia and Nate are two people who I always wanted to find on the street someday and invite them to dinner. My hope is that you’ll come away at least wanting to have coffee if you can’t spring for lasagna.

So now that I’m still standing on the light side of the moon, I also find myself on the funny side of the moon. Laughter and humor is so subjective but I think I hit a funny bone or two.

Buy Now at Amazon | All other formats and retailers on 1/25/13

Cake maker and single mom Claudia Bradley thinks she has life all figured out—until her best friend Nate starts looking like a mouth-watering dessert and her son’s father comes strolling back into the picture as if he’d never left ten years ago. Throw in a case of preteen angst and a family with lots of well-meant advice, and, well, she’s whipping up a recipe for chaos!

Nate West has always been there for Claudia, a basic ingredient in her life, but suddenly she is flirting outrageously with him when she’s never looked that way at him before — despite his dreams. With her ex-lover back in town, Nate isn’t about to renege on his years-old promise to always be the friend Claudia needs, but does she want more?

She’s as tempting as butter cream frosting with sprinkles, and he’s mighty tempted…

Misty Simon loves a good story and decided one day that she would try her hand at it. Eventually she got it right. There's nothing better in the world than making someone laugh, and she hopes everyone at least snickers in the right places when reading her books. She lives with her husband, daughter and two insane dogs in Central Pennsylvania where she is hard at work on her next novel or three. She loves to hear from readers, and you can check out her website at