Tuesday, January 29, 2013


I like birds. Back when I was getting a degree in geography and environmental studies, I had an internship at a nature center in Michigan. We had a barred owl named Joey that we used for educational programs. I nursed an American kestrel back to health and saved a batch of baby blue jays. One of the happiest parts of my winter is watching the juncos foraging outside my window.

But birds are sometimes the stupidest creatures I've ever seen.

A couple of years ago, we had a fledgling male robin that flung itself against the picture window in our basement. Repeatedly. We'd hear a tap, go peek around the corner, and there he'd be, fluttering up to the picnic table and launching himself at the center of the window. Then he'd fall to the ground and rap his beak against the glass, hard, a few times before starting again. He did this over and over and over, for hours, and it went on for weeks. The window was filthy. Some of the dirt smears were wing-shaped. He eventually stopped, after he got old enough for us to tell that he was male. I figure he got brain damage and couldn't find his way back.

Fast forward a couple of years. I'm sitting in my office, and I hear that distinctive thud-click. Thud-click. I go peek around the corner, wondering if our robin is back, and guess what? No! It's a CARDINAL this time. He flies at the window half a dozen times and stops, and he always stops when we go peek. So I guess he's a *little* smarter than the robin.

I had to do a term paper on starlings for my ornithology class in college. I was so proud of myself when I figured out that they wiped their beaks on the branches of the trees to scrape off the dirt from digging for worms and bugs. I got that paper published in The Student Scholar. So I'm not completely ignorant when it comes to birds. I assume these guys are trying to court or attack their reflections or something, but I can't figure out why it never stops.

Anyone out there a birdwatcher with some insight into this?

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Book History

Last night, I had some time. I know, right?! I'd finished Shattered Glass, had no client work pending, had made huge progress on a friend's project, finished the CSS registration, and had a couple of hours before meeting a friend for a movie. So I decided to pull out my master book history spreadsheet and update it.

YIKES. I hadn't updated it in years! It was really interesting to see my accomplishments all in one place. And transfer all the rejections I hadn't logged for each title. But also the sales! Those are always fun. :)

So here are my stats. I've written 22 complete books and 28 short stories and novellas. I also have 3 completed partials (3 chapters and a synopsis of books that I may or may not ever finish) and 7 "started" books. Those include my first book (which I aborted and split the idea into 3 books, only one of which got completed), 2 sequels that will never be completed, 2 sequels that will be eventually, and two new books that I just haven't had time to get back to.

Of all of those, I have had 13 of the novels published or contracted, and self-published one. 24 of the shorts have been published. Not too shabby. :)

Now I have to update my master character sheet. I'm five titles behind! Though by now some crossover, especially in the secondary characters, is inevitable, it's still nice to be able to check it and say "hey, I'd better change the heroine's name because..."

I started writing this at 7ish last night. I had to do some auction coordination and other promotional stuff, and kept going back and forth between things, so I didn't finished until ten after 8, and there's no way I'd get that character sheet done in 20 minutes! So I had to add it to the to-do list. It's of no benefit if it's incomplete, right? (Even if I haven't looked at it in *mumble* years.)

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Reasons to be Gleeful on Wednesday

1. I'm home!
After a stressful week two weeks ago, I'd wanted to take an extra day off. Wednesday is my least busy day at work, so my boss let me take today off, just to catch up on stuff. So I didn't have to get up and get ready for work, and my day is mine to do with as I please! The best part is that I'm home tomorrow, too!

2. Things are Going Well
I got up early anyway, because I couldn't sleep. So I ended up putting a novel draft into a binder so I can work on edits when I'm away from the computer, and I FINALLY OH MY GOD cleaned out my supplies cubby. For YEARS it's just been a mess of things tossed into it. Oh, I had organizers. They were kind of stacked on top of each other, under and on top of the mess. I pulled everything out and sorted it all, trashing trash and separating clips by type and putting all paper goods in one tray and so on. I had to go to the store to get a shelf so I could maximize the space, and then I had to take some tools to the shelf so I could force it to fit, but everything is in there!

I wish I had a before picture, but here's the after:

I also set up my blog post for Everybody Needs a Little Romance on Friday, and visited some other cool blogs, and did some RWA stuff. As soon as I'm done with this, it will be time to eat lunch and then on to the WRITING! I'm determined to finish Shattered Glass today. Then tonight I'm going to a movie with a friend.

3. The Plan is Working
I've written every day for six days in a row. That hasn't happened since the beginning of September! And now I have momentum, and I won't let anything interfere with it as long as I can. :) 

4. The Whole Shebang has launched.
Misty Simon and Vicky Burkholder have started a new blog to celebrate creativity of all kinds. They'll feature novels in The Library, art in The Gallery, and music in The Jukebox. They've already got an amazing lineup of guests scheduled and have started some of their regular columns. Go check it out! I know you'll want to subscribe. :)

5. Under the Moon was a Daily Deal.
Okay, that happened two weeks ago. But it went to number 1 in three different categories and up to 54 on the Kindle Top 100 list. I was above JK Rowling. Briefly. :) The book's ranking is still good, and the hoped-for aftereffects are trickling in. I had three Authorgraph requests this week, on Amazon there were four fantastic new reviews for the book, and the number of shelves that Heavy Metal, the sequel, is on are growing. Plenty of reasons to be excited!

5. More Things are About to Happen
That's not a tease. I have no reason to believe it's a true statement. But sometimes, when things are going well, it creates a sense of optimistic anticipation that, if I'm lucky, will open up a flood of great new events.

What are your reasons to be gleeful this Wednesday?

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Getting Back to What Works

Isn't it ridiculous how otherwise smart people can "forget" how to be successful?

It's not always true. (Warning: The following might sound like bragging. A little.) Last fall, I lost 17 pounds by counting calories. I don't remember exactly when I stopped logging and calculating the calories for everything I ate, but I just didn't want to do it through the holidays. I needed a break. I tried to keep my portions manageable and not go overboard on the holiday goodies. Surprise, surprise, when I got on the scale a couple of weeks ago, I was exactly where I'd been when I stopped! No gain!

Of course, maintaining is not losing. I want 13 more gone by my writers retreat in mid-May, so I started counting again.

The bigger struggle is writing. I hoped the new year would bring a little more balance, but I've still been swamped by the day job, freelance work, stuff with the kids, volunteer (though minimal) and promotional activities, etc., and I wind up too tired to write every day. And that's even without watching TV for like six weeks!

I've been beating myself up over my lack of discipline/dedication/time management skills. And then I read this post by Liz Talley. She didn't really say anything I hadn't already known, but her advice to turn to your support group kind of slapped me in the face.

I *have* a support group. I've had them for six years. But things have changed since we first set up to hold each other accountable, and we've been very lax in 2013 about checking in with each other about writing. So I revved us up. Now I have people to report to, and that gives me a little bit more push.

The other thing I needed to do was set more concrete goals. I always have goals, and I always track production, but I'd gotten a little vague on that to start the year. So I pulled up last year's spreadsheet, thinking I'd set a goal to beat my word count total for the corresponding month in 2012. January was 8,428, so that's very doable. But May was 24,454, and August was 35,900. Not stellar, but pretty high. What if those are months I have to do revisions for my publisher? Being that direct was going to be too restrictive.

So I calculated an average for the year. Since October had 0 new words (god, I don't think that's happened in YEARS), it ended up being a decent 15,414. So that's my goal for each month, to write at least that many words.

Since I'm already halfway through January, I wasn't sure I could do it this month. But I broke it down, and needed 800 words a day. Whew! That's less than my daily goal has been! (Never mind that I double my daily goal one day, then do nothing for three days.) Thank god for Thursdays. Today I wrote over 2,600 words, so now I only need 600 per day for the monthly goal. I will hopefully do more, because that's how it works. You meet a particular count, but only need 200 more to reach, say, 1,000, and then you're on a roll so you keep going, and it's almost 1,500 so keep going a little...

Now I have to do 2 client projects and cook dinner and hit the volunteer stuff, try to go to bed at a decent hour, and stick my determined chin in the air for my goal tomorrow, which is a day job day and a soccer game night and...

No more excuses.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

I Love This Freakin' Show

I liked David Silver on Beverly Hills 90210 (the original, obviously). But I didn't love Brian Austin Green until he played Derek Reese on The Sarah Connor Chronicles. I loved his character so much, I was glad they'd canceled the show when they shot him in the head in the finale. I didn't want to watch it without him.

I'll admit that I couldn't handle watching Happy Endings, not even for the few episodes BAG was on. But then Gabe Tigerman tweeted several time about his wife's new show, Wedding Band. I love Gabe. He's a sweet guy and a funny actor, and he sat and chatted with us in the bar at the Supernatural convention for a really long time. One of the reasons we fell in love with him then was because he was so giddy over his wife. So I checked out Wedding Band to see if it was something I'd like to watch. And found that Brian Austin Green is the star! Hell, yeah, it's a show I want to watch!

And you know what? It's really awesome! It may be the show I'm most excited to see every week. Not just because of BAG. The band has four members, all different characters but who fit together believably. They're not caricatures. Yes, the lead singer is a playboy and the drummer is kind of schlubby, but they're smart and hard-working and they really love what they do. But most of all, they care about people. They've helped a couple of dorks get the attention of the girls they crushed on. Arranged a pre-meet for a very nervous Indian bride and groom the night before their arranged marriage. And risked their careers turning a divorce party into a renewal of vows ceremony for the couple whose wedding was their first gig as a band 7 years ago.

The writing is, of course, what makes it so great. The characters are complex, the plotlines interesting and/or fun, and there's plenty of humor. The raunch is held in check, and situations never devolve into ridiculousness.

My only quibble is part of a subplot that had Tommy (BAG) going to a romance book club to meet women. He really got into the books and there were ongoing clever jokes about them, but I didn't like some of the details that were clearly poking fun at romances, lines written by people who obviously don't read them.

If you're looking for light entertainment on a Saturday night, check it out and let me know what you think!

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Under the Moon is a Daily Deal!

Amazon has chosen Under the Moon to be today's Romance Daily Deal. You can get it for only 99 CENTS! But only today! http://amzn.to/XgSpdM

Under the Moon cover

Sunday, January 06, 2013

Mini Me—Except She's Taller

It's a running joke in our family that Number One is a duplicate of me in a lot of ways, both superficial and substantial. The superficial ones are funny. During family conversations and sporting events and while watching TV, we'll often say the same thing in the same way. Just now, watching the playoffs, we both went "Ooh, niiiiice." Same duration, same tone. Her father and sister comment on it every time.

Last night, she had a craving for a burger with onions, so they got McDonald's. A while later, her father spotted her set-aside plate with one bite of hamburger on it. He said something about it, and she said she didn't know why, she just can't eat the last bite of a sandwich.

Her father gave me a significant, exasperated look and said, "I'm quite familiar with that."

Yeah. I never eat the last bite of a sandwich/burger/whatever that I haven't made myself.

We have different reasons for this. When I was a kid, we had a grinder restaurant next door. The ginders often had tiny bits of gristle or bone, and that made me gag. So for decades, I'd stop eating my sub/burger/sandwich if I hit something gross. If I got all the way through without a problem and had just one more bite, it felt like tempting fate. I couldn't make myself eat it.

Number One said the last bite feels like she's stuffing her mouth, which makes her feel like she's stuffing her stomach, which makes her feel a little sick. So she can't do that last bite, no matter how small.

How weird are we?

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Launching 2013 the Right Way

Ways I Started 2013 Off Right

1. I cleaned my office, including filing and pending paperwork, so I have a fresh, uncluttered area to work in.

2. I wrote down the mileage on my car on the first day, instead of the 7th (last year) or in March (all the years before that).

3. I moved a year and a half worth of pictures from the camera to my hard drive, and backed them up. (Alas, I did not label and file them all yet.)

4. I put my laundry away as I did it!

5. I did all my tax prep and handed it over!

6. I blogged!

Ways I Intend to Continue Starting 2013 Off Right but Haven't Yet Because I'm Blogging Here First

1. Cover reveal for Heavy Metal. I'm going to do this on the News page of my website as soon as I'm done posting here. Well, after I send a newsletter. Those loyal subscribers deserve first look, right? :) Anyway, go check it out! It's possibly my favorite cover yet.

2. Writing! I want to finish Shattered Glass soon, the first novella in the Goddesses Rising series (not yet acquired for publication, FYI), so I can get Soulflight done soon after.

3. More Firefly, though I probably can't talk Number Two into it. She's loving the show, but there's tennis on today. For five hours.

4. Getting to bed at a decent hour. I'm not sure number 1 is conducive to number 4, but we'll see.

5. Self-evaluation! Which really means just boring the heck out of you guys. You can stop here if you want to.

Words Written:
2011 = 129,194
2012 = 185,125

Wow. That's kind of a surprise. I stopped tracking words created during revisions back in March because it was driving me nuts and slowing me down. I wonder how I did in 2010... (166,606)

I'd like to go for 200,000 in 2013, but there are too many factors affecting it. I'll probably be doing more revision than writing in the first half of the year.

Freelance Work
I know this was wayyyy up in 2012, but I don't want to take the time to add it all up. So let's just say I worked a lot. :)

Books Read
  92 books read (61 e-book, 14 hardcover, 11 mass market, 6 trade paperback)
  26 started and not finished
  97 books read (62 e-book, 20 hardcover, 9 mass market, 6 trade paperback)
  20 started and not finished

The books completed include short stories and novellas. They don't match up with my Goodreads shelves, because those might include whole anthologies while my spreadsheet lists the stories separately if I only read some of them.

It's interesting that I read more hardcover this year. I think because I did more young adult that I shared with my kids, and more library books.

Movies Watched
2011 = 47 (one on DVD I didn't finish [Extract], 21 on DVD, 8 on Netflix streaming, 2 on Starz during a free promotion, and 16 in the theater)

2012 = 33 (10 on DVD, 23 in the theater)

Part of the reason...well, probably the whole reason for the drop is the cancellation of Netflix when we cut expenses. It's worth mentioning that the numbers include Thor twice in 2011 and The Avengers three times in 2012. :)

TV on DVD or streaming
In 2011 I watched Supernatural season 5, and then seasons 1 and 2 again. I also rewatched Firefly and watched Justified season 1 before season 2 began. It's possible I failed to track some things, because that seems awfully light.

In 2012 I watched Entourage season 7, rewatched Supernatural seasons 5 and 6, rewatched Doctor Who seasons 1–3 before we canceled Netflix, and Suburgatory season 1 as my "should have tried that last year" show. I also added Firefly, though we have a few eps to go.

So that's my year(s) in review! This year I'm going to record when I read or watched stuff, because I'm curious when my busiest months are, and when I have more time to read/watch. It will also be interesting to see if I can increase both my writing and my reading, without decreasing my day job or freelance hours. :)

Okay, if you read this far, thank you! And wishing you the best year ever in 2013. *mwah!*