Updates

Status: Releasing Entranced on February 17!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Toeing the Religious Line

There is a fine line between religion and audience, I'm discovering.

Mostly I've been enlightened by my editor, and it's been a bit difficult to accept. I believe her. Everything she said made sense. It's just sad to me that that's the way it is.

When I started writing Perilous, I was writing it for an LDS audience. (A Mormon audience, for the layman.) Specifically, LDS teens. I always had hopes that the novel would be so excellent that non-LDS readers would also pick it up and find an interest in it, even though the characters were from an obscure, usually unpopular religious denomination.

Turns out I struck out on both counts. Before even offering me a contract, WiDo expressed to me concerns that the topic was too controversial to offer to an LDS audience. My willingness to turn it into a mainstream thriller was a condition of the contract. Of course I agreed. The more I get to know my editor, the more I trust her foresight.

But while Perilous was too controversial to be LDS, it was also too religious to be mainstream.

Are you starting to see how I struck out?

So we've been making some big changes while still preserving the integrity and soul of the novel. We've gone from four LDS characters to two. The hardest part for me has been removing Jaci's inner thoughts that center around God and prayer. And removing the religious discussions. As my editor pointed out, people will be suspicious and think I am pushing my religion on them. She's right, and so those things must go. But I feel like I'm letting my LDS readers down (because I know that I will have some). They are going to read Jaci's actions and think, "What's wrong with this girl? Is she religious or not? Why doesn't she pray more? Why does she always rely on her own strength to get things done?" Because that's what I would think. Don't worry, we're leaving enough prayers in for the readers to know she prays.

Kristine (my editor) hopes there will come a day when the LDS denomination is accepted as readily as the Catholics or Lutherans or Baptists, or anyone else. For now, though, just knowing an author is LDS makes many people shy away from reading their books (I won't tell anyone that James Dashner and Brandon Mull and Stephenie Meyer are LDS, to name a few). I certainly don't want having LDS characters to be the kiss of death.

On another note entirely, Kurt Chambers interviewed me here. If you want to find out more about me or just want a good laugh, check it out.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

What I'm Thankful for

I'm thankful for

Heating

My husband

My husband's job

Being a mother

Living close to my parents

My children's health

A full freezer

Leftovers

Employment

My book contract

Nice weather

Nap time

My students

My husband

Jesus Christ

The Word of God

Friends

Internet

My car

Indoor plumbing

Family

Webcams

Green beans


Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Pumpkin Foolery

I am such an idiot.

Before you disagree with me, let me tell you what I did.

It’s holiday time, which means pie time. And one of my favorite recipes is Pumpkin Pecan pie. I’m not such a big fan of pumpkin pie, but love pecan pie, so this recipe helps me get both!

But I also decided to branch out this season. I bought a pie pumpkin for my pie. Found instructions online for my pumpkin and set about making the pie. I also got one 14 oz. can of pumpkin, in case my real pumpkin didn’t make enough. I needed 30 oz. (or two cans) for my two pies.

Everything worked out perfectly. I pureed my steamed pumpkin and set about measuring it. It measured out to just over three cups. So I picked up my can of pumpkin, and this it what the back said: “serving size: ½ Cup. Servings per can: 3 ½.”

What happened next is quite bizarre. I thought something like this, “Okay, so one can has six cups of pumpkin in it. That means I need this can with my pumpkin, because my three cups plus this three cups will be six cups.”

Um…okay, so math is not my forte. Nor is logic. Reason. Anything rational.

Around the time I dumped the can into my bowl and added the egg and condensed milk, I realized that one can only had three cups, not six. Which meant my three cups of pumpkin equaled one 14 oz. can.

I spazzed! I ruined my pie! Now I had twice as much pumpkin as I needed!

Great, I thought. Four pies. Guess we’ll freeze some for Christmas.

I dumped in another egg and made a plan to go to the store and get another can of condensed milk. Then I put the whole bowl in the fridge to sit while I stewed in frustration.

And then all of the sudden it occurred to me. (See how my brain is always a little behind?) One 14 oz. can of pumpkin, which equals approximately 3 cups of pumpkin, was never going to be enough. I needed two cans of pumpkin. Or 6 cups of pumpkin, or one pumpkin pie and one can of pumpkin.

I had done it right after all.

So after all that fretting, I made my pumpkin pies. Though with two eggs instead of one.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Harlequin a Vanity Press?

It appears that I am boring my followers.

I only got two comments yesterday, out of 57 followers.

I could delusion myself into thinking that everyone I know is disconnected from the internet or getting sick on turkey already...but I saw how many people posted blogs yesterday.

So! Looks like I need to step up the pace if I'm going to keep my readership.

The truth is that my life is incredibly boring and other than my writing, I don't really have anything going on. And I don't have any expertise in anything.

So, in the effort to appear knowledgable, interesting, and worth commenting on, I'm going to weigh in on the new Harlequin press--the one that is a vanity press, or self-publishing (there is a difference between the two, but for simplicity's sake, I'm going to group them together as not being traditional publishing).

Harlequin recently created a new imprint, called Harlequin Horizons...but what's got people all riled up is that this imprint is not actually an imprint at all, but a vanity press masquerading as a part of Harlequin. It says it all quite clearly on the website--this is a pay for services. It's a bold move by Harlequin, one that will help them meet their expenses in this economy and take advantage of all the rejections they give out in a week's time.

Here's the problem: When a rejection is given, does Harlequin then 'recommend' that an author submit to Harlequin Horizons? Does it give the writer the impression that doing so might just enable them to be picked up by Harlequin itself in the future?

How many inexperienced authors would fall for that? If you look at how many fall for the scam agents and publishing companies, probably many. Especially since Harlequin is a known and legitimate name. (Although Harlequin has promised to change the name of Harlequin Horizons so they seem less like sister companies.)

I'm sure you've been reading about this on every blog for the past week, but just in case you want to see what people are saying today, here's a few more blogs talking about it. Just click here and here. This is a very heated discussion. Nobody seems happy about it.

My take? Writers need to do their research and know what they're getting into. Then if writer chooses to go with a press like Harlequin Horizons, it's not because they're expecting something they're not getting.

Go ahead. Leave your comment. What do you think?

Monday, November 23, 2009

Edits Are Here!

So the big manila package arrived today. (When I was a little kid, I always thought adults were saying 'vanilla'...lots of 'vanilla folders.' You know, because they're yellow. Anyway.)

Very exciting! I can't wait to dig into this. There's something much easier about editing when you have specific instructions. Crossing out lines, changing word order, adding a sentence, deleting a paragraph. Just looks like a fun project.

Perhaps that's why I love getting reviews on my WIPs. It's brain food. It fuels me to do something, to look at it with new eyes.

For some reason Microsoft Word rebelled on me when my editor emailed back an electronic copy, though. It looked funny on the screen, but everything appeared to be normal: 12 pt font, normal margins. I couldn't figure out what it was until I printed it. It printed in 10 pt font (even though the document said it was 12 pt), with huge margins, putting a book-sized area of text in the middle of the page. I thought my editor had done something to the formatting for typesetting purposes. Apparently not...she didn't like the printed pages I sent her. (She asked me why I set my margins so huge. Yikes! She probably thinks I'm an idiot.)

And for the life of me, I could not get Microsoft Word to change the settings!!! I changed fonts, moved page margins, even tried changing the page orientation. No luck. I had to clear all formatting. All of it! Anyone else ever have Microsoft Word go nutsy like that? (Seriously. I'm not an idiot.)

So, now that I'm back to working on Perilous, where does that leave book #2? I'm going to make a few more changes today, and then I'm calling draft #2 good. Done. Time to submit it to critique groups and watch the reviews come in!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Victory, Victory, Victory!

It's official. Hubby has a job. :)

A real job.

Because we are such extravagant big spenders swimming in debt, it's not quite enough for us to make ends meet. But it is a 50% improvement over where we were! It makes our chances of staying above water THAT MUCH BIGGER.

Anyway. Enough about that. Something else my husband is doing extremely well at. Ever heard of Inkpop? Well, it's this really cool website where people post their books, other people vote on them, and the winners get the first four-five chapters read by HarperCollins editing team. Isn't that cool??? With maybe, maybe a publishing contract offered, if they like it.

My husband wrote a book. Called Keeper of the Key. And it's not in the top five, but in one week it's gotten into the top 25. Is that not awesome??? I'm super excited for him.

As for my book, I'm making some final changes to the sequel and then I'm going to say, "Draft 2 is done!" Hopefully today. I have to take out all of the villain POV, since we cut that from the prequel. And then we'll be down in the wordcount, and I'll have to figure out where I can add scenes. And what. Because I certainly am not going to add fluff, but I can't have the book being 120 pages shorter than the first one!

That's it.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Countdown: 11: Critique Group

There came a point, after I had made my revisions and my husband had told me how much he disliked my book, that I needed to find a critique group.

I tried to gather up a few people from church, but nobody was interested in reading my book. Just, you know, having me read their book. (Okay, there were only two people.)

So I started looking online.

Believe it or not, you have the same problem online. Everyone wants to be read but nobody wants to read and review. I joined a writing group online that I was quite excited about. I made myself a regular member and read every new post that someone made. However, I quickly lost enthusiasm for two reasons: 1) I wasn't getting reviews in return 2) When I did, they were 1-2 liners of the first 1-2 chapters.

I ended up getting lots of feedback for the first two chapters. But what about the rest of the book???

That's when I found www.writing.com.

It can be a bit confusing at first. So many options. I just started reading every person I found, looking for something great. What I found was a novelist who had written such a great novel that I read the whole thing online in a few hours. (You can see her blog here.) And she led me to the Young Adult Novel Forum.

That writing group was the first to read my novel all the way through.

It was fantastic. I remember the first reviews I got, years ago now, where my fellow members cringed and held their breath to see how I'd take their critique of my novel. Then I remember the reviews I got a year ago, when the members said things like, "I forgot to critique this, I was so into the story." Radical difference. It changed immensely. I could not have done it without a critique group.

I learned so much from them. And I knew quite a bit before, grammatically (I majored in English), but not so much when it came to writing. They were the ones who taught me about head-hopping POVs and adverbs. About flashbacks and prologues and showing emotions instead of telling them.

And they are my friends. I love my critique group. I'm not as active as I was then, but I know they support me. They are a group of fantastic writers.

The best advice I have for an aspiring writer is to get a critique group. Not your friends, but honest writers who will give you their sincere feelings on your book.

Sequel revisions:
today's goal: 183/183
actual: 183/185
tomorrow's goal: Finish!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

I Think I'm on a Roll Here in Little Rock

Okay, so I'm not in Little Rock. But I was yesterday.

See, we've had these issues with my youngest. I don't really think there's anything wrong with him, but there's been enough concern that yesterday we took him to the children's hospital for a consultation. (My pediatrician has been trying to get me to go for six months. This is the third appointment we've made. I finally bit the bullet and went.)

It's a long drive. Almost four hours. Luckily, my trooper of a Mom came with me, or it would've been awful. Jacen did great, poor guy, since he had to spend two hours with my mom in the waiting room while I was with Asher in the lab. Yes, for two hours. After four hours in the car.

Then we hopped back in the car and drove home for four hours. Fun day!

But happily, the doctor also felt like there is nothing wrong with Asher. He's very small. That's it. The doctor took some blood tests and said he'll probably have us come back in a few weeks for a biopsy just to RULE OUT ANYTHING BAD, but in the meantime, not to worry.

I'm comfortable with that. Everything's probably fine. And if it's not, we'll find out.

Now it's time to get back on a roll...here in Springdale...

Sequel revisions:
today's goal: 178/180
actual: 173/183
tomorrow's goal: page 183/183

Monday, November 16, 2009

Eeek! I heard from my editor!

Writing is so much fun, isn't it?

I heard back from my editor today. Sounds like she's mailing my manuscript back with mark-ups all over it. I'm VERY excited.

First of all, we're cutting out the villain's POV. We tried it, didn't really work, we're cutting it. While I enjoyed his POV, I'd already cut it before and just added it in at my first editor's request. It's always fun to get inside someone else's head. I won't cry over cutting it, though.

Second, and this is the one that really intrigues me: She wants me to consider making only two of the girls LDS (Latter-day Saint), to appeal to a wider audience.

Now, would you believe I'd never even considered that before?

I can see how it would make the book more interesting to a national audience. All of the sudden it goes from being a book with LDS characters (and thus an LDS book) to being a culturally diverse book with several different religious characters in it. (And since the MC is Mexican-America, I think that'll help with the diversity.)

It makes sense, really. I grew up in a predominantly Baptist community. There were four of us in high school who were close friends. Two of us were LDS and two of us were Baptist.

I'm going to explore this idea more. I'm quite excited about it. It will require major revisions, but I agree that it will make my book more marketable. And that is, after all, what we want!

Sequel revisions:
today's goal: 147/175
actual: 168/180
tomorrow's goal: page 178/180

Friday, November 13, 2009

Goodbye Camping and Hello Brodi Ashton

First of all, I woke up with an enormous headache today. I hate it when that happens. So I skipped my swimming class and went back to bed, letting my 3-year-old babysit while I slept until lunch time. Fun times! Then I took some more medicine, which as made me groggy but at least knocked out the headache. We're supposed to go camping tonight. I think I might have to let DH and my oldest do that alone.

But, onto the good stuff! I have a SPOTLIGHT today! I'm very pleased to introduce you to Brodi Ashton. We've only recently met on the blog world (what am I saying? I've only been blogging for four months, so everyone's a recent friend!), so I'll be getting to know her too!

Me: Brodi, thanks for agreeing to go through this. Hee hee. I found you because you're also a writer, but I don't know anything about what you write. What books have you written?

Brodi: My first book, Echo, is on submission with my agent. Here’s a blurb:

Lane Maddux has just become an unwilling alien-hunter, and to save her small town, she just might have to kill the boy she loves.

High school reporter Lane Maddux thrives on independence and tolerates her outsider status. But when a recent crime wave turns out to be a supernatural declaration of war, Lane must rely on extraterrestrial skills she never knew she had, and a mysterious guardian she never thought she needed. With the Chief of Police tailgating her every move, the new boy in school playing hacky sack with her heart, and her dreaded stint as a weathergirl turning into an on-air yuckfest, Lane predicts some serious glitches on the road to fighting evil.

When love is on the line, Lane finds herself at a critical junction, caught between what she wants to do, and what she was born to do.

Me: Wow, sounds deliciously fascinating! Made me smile. Can't wait to read it. I'll be watching your blog for updates! What are you writing right now?

Brodi: I have a few novels in the works, and one finished first draft of a new one called Broken. It’s about a girl who’s been trapped in the Underworld for 100 years, and she gets to go back to her high school and relive 6 months. You can read the first page of it on this blog post: http://brodiashton.blogspot.com/2009/11/fbf-winner-and-presenting-first-page-of.html

Me: Another fantastic premise. The paranormal theme is all hot right now. Where are you in the publishing process?

Brodi: I wrote Echo two years ago, found an agent (Ted Malawer of Upstart Crow Literary) revised the book with him for six months. Now, he is submitting it to publishing houses while I work on the next one. I try not to think about it and leave all the dirty work to him. I’ve discovered becoming an author means a lot of waiting. And waiting. And, oh yeah, waiting.

Me: Not only do I hear you, but I totally admire you. You actually had the courage/patience/stubborness to get an agent. I have a book series that I want to do that with, but I haven't even started that process. It takes guts and I don't have them. Yet. Where do you get your ideas for your books?

Brodi: Ha ha! Good question. My family will probably tell you I ran into a lot of walls when I was little. Head first. Maybe that has something to do with it.

Really, though, my mother was an English teacher, and she always told me there are no new stories, only new ways to tell them. She introduced me to all the good books, from classics like Dracula, to Jane Austen, to ancient myths to Shakespeare. She told me these were the latest things to hit the Young Adult market. I believed her. I thought the movie Taming of the Shrew was a kids’ show.

I guess I get inspiration from all of the books I’ve read and the movies I’ve watched. For instance, Echo is a little bit "Battlestar Galactica", a little bit Veronica Mars. Add a dash of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and a splash of "Invasion of the Body Snatchers".

For Broken, I turned to mythology. My favorite story was about Orpheus and Eurydice. Eurydice gets trapped in the Underworld with Hades, and so Orpheus plays music and convinces Hades to release her. Only he loses her again. Oh, the yearning!

Me: I always hated that story. But the intrigue is so there. I can tell I'm going to love your books. Can't wait! What audience do you hope to reach?

Brodi: Teens. Teens. Teens. Okay, and adults. I love writing for teens, and YA books are my favorites to read.

Me: Ditto that. But I'm not impressed with the caliber of writing. Most of the time. I hate sifting through to find something good to read. Sounds like your books will be perfect for me. Do you eat while you read?

Brodi: Sometimes. I mostly like to drink tea or inhale Diet Coke while I read. I don’t like sticky fingers on the pages of my books, so Cheetos are out. Okay, I admit sometimes I nab Cheetos with my mouth as if I’m bobbing for apples. It eliminates the “middle-man” of my fingers. That way, everyone’s a winner.

Me: Ha ha, that's hilarious. I'm trying to picture you reading and bobbing for Cheetos at the same time. What YA genres do you like?

Brodi: Um… I love paranormal, sci-fi, and literary/realistic fiction. Some of my favorite YA titles of late: Hunger Games, The Way He Lived, The Dark Divine, Once Was Lost.

Me: Huge thanks for the suggestions! What's your favorite thing to cook?

Brodi: Uh oh. I don’t cook. Hmmm… toast? I boil a mean pot of water.

Me: That's too funny. Totally reminded me of a conversation between my and my BFF in high school when she said she loved to cook. And I said, "What, spaghettios?" And she said, "No, I can make chocolate chip cookies too!" Anyway. What are you afraid of?

Brodi: Spiders, plants that grow too fast, weird dry spots on my arms and legs, the economy, politicians, the ocean, the things in the ocean, sushi, and ingrown toenails.

Me: I remember your hilarious blog post about the plant creeping into your house. I didn't know eczema was on your list. Too funny! What's your favorite physical feature on yourself?

Brodi: My ears. That one’s easy. It’s like the only part of my body I like. They are tiny, like a child’s ears. (as a side note, my least favorite parts are my cankles).

Me: Ears. Well, that's a first. Never heard that before. I loved getting to know you, Brodi. If your books are as funny as you are (I love a bit of dark humor), they're going to be great.Thanks so much!

Sequel revisions:
today's goal: 140/172
actual: 137/175
tomorrow's goal: page 147/175

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Theme Song to Perilous

Steph's group blog topic is the theme song to your novel.

This is fun. Right now, I can safely say my favorite artist is Taylor Swift. Love her. I bought both of her CDs a few months ago and will still go weeks listening to nothing else.


My novel Perilous is the first of a 3-book series (potentially more). It's a thriller about four girls who are kidnapped and taken across the border where they are held for ransom by a desperate criminal.

But it's a lot more than that. It's also a love story (not with the criminal, EW!). The love story starts in book one but doesn't really take off until book three. It's innocent and fresh and emotional. (I hope.) Taylor's song "You Belong with Me" captures the feeling of a normal teenage girl who feels completely acceptable the way she is, even if she's not captain of the cheerleading team. It's the guy who needs to see her for what she is.

Her song "Fifteen" is the one that gets me, though. This is the song that talks about the insecurities of being a girl with a crush. The feeling of just wanting to be wanted. I remember that feeling from high school. Oh, it was awful! Just as Taylor talks about in her song, I remember watching friends sacrifice pieces of themselves because they thought it would give them something in return. It never did, and that was heartbreaking.

I want to capture that emotion in my books as accurately as Taylor did in her songs. When you read my series, if it doesn't sweep you away and make you feel something, then I failed!

My other stories have theme songs too. But I haven't written those books yet, so they don't merit being mentioned in the blog post.

Sequel revisions:
today's goal: 122/171
actual: 130/172
tomorrow's goal: page 140/172

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Respecting Those that Take a Stand

Statistically, 46.8% of all high school kids have had sex before they graduate.

Judging from movies, books, and TV shows, you would think it was 100%.

What about the other 53.2%? Who writes books, movies, and TV shows for them?

Yesterday, I read a blog. I can't remember which blog it was, so if it was yours, speak up! But this blog mentioned how it almost seems to be required in YA literature to have the 16+ aged kids having sex.

Why is that?

Why is it that movies show everyone living together? Okay, lots of people do. WE GET THAT. But not EVERYBODY does.

In my books, some kids are having sex and some kids are not. Kind of like real life.

Why does the media make fun of the kids that are not having sex? Like they aren't having sex because they are plain, ugly, socially inept, rather than because maybe they don't want to.

We should respect other people. Especially if they are willing to take a stand against something popular. That's respectable.

When I was in high school, there was a girl in my class that was a member of a strict religious group. I'd known her since elementary school, actually. She wasn't allowed to cut her hair or wear make-up, get contacts, or wear pants or short skirts.

This girl was nothing short of AMAZING.

I didn't share her religious beliefs. But I didn't ever think of her as crazy or fanatical. I admired her ability to live what she believed. She was a beautiful girl who knew how to carry herself. She was very smart and very kind. To this day, I honor her and what she stood for.

So. Who's writing books about girls that are smart and sexy and beautiful and not having sex? Who's making movies about kids that go to class and have fun at football games and don't drink?

I don't know about the movies part, but I'm doing my part with the books. This is my stand. To portray life the way it REALLY is. Not the way Hollywood thinks it is.

Sequel revisions:
today's goal: 112/169
actual: 112/171
tomorrow's goal: page 122/171

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Right to Drive the Speed Limit

Today as I was driving home from Sam's Club, I got stuck behind a dump truck. Not just me, either, but a big line of cars got stuck behind this guy. Unfortunately, we were on a two-lane highway. The speed limit might have been 50 mph, but we couldn't go any faster that the dump truck in front of us going 25 mph.

While inconvenient, there was nothing that could be done about it. The dump truck needed the road. He couldn't go any faster (I assume). We simply had to slow down and crawl along behind him.

But what about those other times? Those times when you are happily zipping along at the POSTED 40 mph, and a car pulls out in front of you doing 35 mph? Um, hello. Speed limit is 40.


Disclaimer: I do not advocate speeding. I don't speed. Ever. The last time I urged someone to go faster than the speed limit was when my mom was driving me to the hospital to give birth to my second son. ah, what a fun day.

Back to the issue at hand. Perhaps it is because I don't speed that I like to take advantage of every legal fastness I can. My husband and I got in a huge argument about this a few weeks ago. He's one of those absent-minded drivers. He drives what he wants, not paying attention, whether that's ten below or ten above the speed limit. He said people have the right to drive slower than the speed limit.

Sure, of course they do! As long as they do it in the right lane. The right lane being the right lane.

I'm a respectful driver. I won't tailgate you. I won't yell at you. I'll simply go around you. But if I can't get around you because John Doe in the right lane is also going 5 miles below the speed limit, I'm going to be exasperated.

After all--don't I have the right to go the speed limit???

Sequel revisions:
today's goal: 90/166
actual: 90/168
tomorrow's goal: page 100/168

Friday, November 6, 2009

Boycotting Amazon

While I think of myself as an educated person, I don't have all the facts and answers at my fingertips. A few months ago I quit buying from Amazon.com and even B&N whenever possible to support my local indie. (You can read about that here.)

Those of you who are writers know how tough it is to make a profit from writing. (I'm not even talking about living off your profit--I'm talking making one.) What I didn't realize was how hard it is for publishers to make any money. But yesterday I learned from this blog that on top of everything else a publisher must pay for, if Amazon sells the book for them, Amazon takes 60%. 60%! And they charge a restocking fee. For this particular small press publisher, it ended up costing them money every time someone bought a book from Amazon.com.

You read that right. Instead of making money from the sale, they spent money every time they sold.

Granted, that's not going to be the case for big publishers who print much larger orders. But if Amazon takes 60%, the author takes another 10%, the publisher is left with 30%. And they still have paychecks to write.

I'm not sure how much a bookstore charges, but I've heard something closer to 40%. (Anyone want to correct me on that?)

I'm going to go out on a limb here and say, I'm willing to pay a few extra dollars to avoid Amazon. In fact, I'm going to skip the shipping and handling altogether and order it from my local indie.

Sequel revisions:
today's goal: 84/164
actual: 80/166
tomorrow's goal: page 90/166

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Totally Frivolous



In light of yesterday's serious post, I'm going to share with you the haircut I'm getting on Saturday:

I'm going to ask for that face too.

Thanks for all the hugs. I ate a lot of Hershey kisses and feel better. The sooner the Halloween candy is gone, the better.

(Oh, and in case you're wondering, the haircut won't cost me a dime. Mark bought me a gift certificate to this place for Mother's Day.)

Sequel revisions:
today's goal: 80/160
actual: 74/164
tomorrow's goal: page 84/164

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Backed into a Corner

I hate to talk about something personal like jobs and finances, but I'm having a "I need to talk to someone" day. This post might not be up in 24 hours. I just need to get it off my chest.

Mark has tried like crazy to get a job in his career path, to no avail. He got a job two weeks ago, but without stating the pay, let me just say that it leaves us more than $1000 short each month. We have enough savings to pull us through for two months at that pay.

So Mark and I put a lot of prayer and thought into it, and we asked the Lord to help him find a job that would cover our expenses by December first, or he is going to volunteer for deployment. Obviously not what we want to happen.

Then he had a job interview last week, and it went really well. So well, that on Thursday they offered the job to him. They said it would start Friday, Nov. 6, as long as he passed his polygraph test.

On Monday (Nov. 2) Mark passed his polygraph test. Like a good employee, he let his current employers know about the other job. And THEN he gets a call from the HR department telling him not to give his 2-weeks notice yet, the job might not start for awhile.

A major bummer. And now he looks flaky at his current job.

They also scheduled him for a 6am physical this morning at the lab, half an hour from our house. Mark was up at the crack of dawn for that thing. When he walked back in at 7am, I did a double take.

"That was fast!" I said.

"No one was there," he said.

What??? I drilled him. Did you call all your phone numbers? Yes. Did you try all the doors? Yes. Are you sure it was 6:ooam?

He showed me the paper. Very legible handwriting. 6:00am.

He even drove to the nearby medical center. Left messages. Nothing.

No one called him back as of lunch time today.

I know my faith is being tested here. But I'm frustrated. Are we not meant to have financial security? Is he supposed to leave me for a year? I feel like we're being backed into a corner and I'm a panicked animal, lashing out. Someone else is playing the cards for us. I'm trying to trust, to relax. Breathe. It's the beginning of November. We still have a month.

Everything will be okay...right???

Sequel revisions:
today's goal: 70/160
actual: 70/160
tomorrow's goal: page 80/160

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Hard Copy Away!

So this morning I mailed off my latest draft to my editor. It is the third hard copy I have mailed out to WiDo Publishing. The first was in request to my partial, the second after several revisions, and now this one. I also printed out and mailed three other hard copies to publishing companies at the same time I was querying WiDo.

I'm saving my receipts. Business expenses. I won't have a return this year, that's a guaranteed. But I might on my taxes!

Since signing a contract with WiDo Publishing, this is draft number four. Here are the changes so far:

Draft 1: Changed the opening scene from four girls to two. Took out all backstory.

Draft 2: Added in the detective's and villain's POV.

Draft 3: Slowed down the romance between J and R.

This most recent draft was by far the most extensive. It required me to pretty much delete the romance between J and R while still maintaining some romantic tension. I'm not sure how well I did at that. We'll see.

It then required me to remove R's POV from the manuscript. He only had five scenes, and three of them were easy to do. J was present, so I was able to show the scene from her POV. J was not privy to the other two scenes, however. So they got cut. Completely. Again, I tried to make sure any pertinent information got talked about or discussed, but we'll have to see if there's anything I left out.

Back to work on my sequel rough draft. I need to set goals again.

Oh, and I've had two new story ideas in the past week. Exciting. Wish I had more time to write.

Sequel revisions:
today's goal: 50/157
actual: 60/160
tomorrow's goal: page 70/160

Monday, November 2, 2009

Walmart and the Missing Debit Card

Today I planned on hitting Walmart and getting some Halloween decorations for 50% off (or more). I also needed ink and paper so I can print off a draft of my book and mail it to my editor. While I was at it, I figured I'd get groceries.

I had a blast in the clearance section. Got cute little ghosts and glittery skeletons, window decor, fun things for next year. The ink and paper section, not quite so exciting, but very necessary.

Then the food. :::Sigh::: If you ever go grocery shopping with children, you know why I'm sighing. We manage to make it through the whole ordeal without repeating any aisles, which is a BIG DEAL.

Of course, Little Tiny goes nuts around the time we get to the check out line. I smile at everyone around us, ignore my screaming child, and start putting groceries on the belt. My children start taking their shoes off and hitting each other. I discretely threaten them.

The cashier points out to me that I grabbed the wrong size milk for my WIC coupon. Big surprise. Grrr! No matter how hard I try, I always get the milk wrong. Either the wrong brand, the wrong size, or the wrong percentage! I smiled politely and asked the bagger to go and exchange the milk for me. He walks around my screaming children, who are lunging at the candy aisle.

While she's ringing that up, I start digging through my purse for my debit card. After all, I had other things to buy.

Can't find my debit card.

I don't carry any other form of money on me. No check book, no cash.

I can feel the beads of sweat collecting on my forehead. My hands shake and my frustration mounts. I remove everything from my purse and start shifting through the business and membership cards. Where is that debit card??? I remember the last time I used it, and I know I put it back.

Which leaves only one culprit. And he was very out of reach at the moment, which was probably very good for him.

I pull out a $30 check my dad wrote me. "You cash checks here, right?"

"Right," she says.

I sign my check and hand it over, wiping my forehead.

"Oh. It has to be a paycheck or government issued. No personal checks."

Well, I wish she would've told me that in the first place!

Seriously, I would've just put it all back, except I really needed the paper and ink. And bagger dude hadn't come back with my milk yet, anyway.

Luckily I had a paycheck in my purse. Cost me $6 to cash it at Walmart, but I bought what I needed. And a bag of M&Ms to hush my shrieking children. I know, horrible mom! The day after Halloween and I'm bribing them with MORE CANDY!

I could care less. The line behind me was enormous. I took my hard-earned cash, my quart of milk, my Halloween decorations and paper and ink, and I high-tailed it out of there.

Hobby Lobby will have to wait until tomorrow. Now that I have my debit card back.
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