Status: Drafting the fourth book in the PERILOUS series!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The First Time's the Best Time

What goes into creating a scene for you? Do you outline it? Play it out in your head? Just sit down and type?

Whenever my mind wanders, I find myself imagining new scenes for my characters. I get so excited about the scene, I'll start it over and over again, relishing in that delicious feeling of something new, something emotional.

But here's the thing: I never let myself finish the scene in my head. In fact, I usually only play the first few sentences. Again and again and again.

For some reason, the first time I think/play it out is the best time. I've played out entire scenes before, loving every minute of it, and then sat down to write it. Only to have it not turn out as good. So now, I don't let myself finish playing out the scene. I know where it's going, but it's not until I sit down at the computer that I let the scene come to life. I let the characters finish it.

It's like the first time is the best time.

It reminds me of one time in college. For fun, my ward (church group) was making mini-videos and having a competition. Everyone who wanted to participate was put into a team. We only had two weeks, so it was pretty impromptu. One night we all gathered in an apartment and just videotaped our movie. No scripts, just prompts.

I was cast as the unhappy fiance. My fiance and I had a screaming break up fight, and then a lovely make up scene later. It was great. Off-screen, my team was holding back the laughter. We finished, ecstatic, and went to watch it--only to discover that Camera Dude had been filming the carpet the whole time.


We re-taped it. And my fiance and I tried, really tried, to capture the exact essence and wording of the first time. It fell flat. We couldn't repeat what we had done so perfectly without trying.

That's how writing is for me. At least, writing new scenes. (Editing is a different beast entirely.)

What about the rest of you? Can you relate? Or is it totally different?
(Reposted from October 2009)

Monday, August 29, 2011

Validated by Fan Mail

It doesn't happen very often. But every once in awhile, I get fan mail.

Let me tell ya, it makes me so happy I think I could cry. I think fan mail is what every author dreams of: those letters from adoring readers who were touched by your book. It's like you accomplished your goal.

I got a great email a few days ago from a mom reader that left me feeling totally validated as a mom and a writer. I'll share some parts with you:

"I just wanted to let you know I have just finished your book Perilous, and it was WONDERFUL! One of those books I just couldn't put down...You have me hooked on your books and cannot wait for the sequel to this. Well anyways just wanted to let you know you are an inspiration to young girls! You have followed your dream and that is amazing!! Keep up the amazing writing!!!!"
 I especially liked that last part, about being an inspiration to young girls. That's what I want. That's part of my platform as a writer, to reach out and inspire young people. The other part is to fulfill my desires of being a mom while accomplishing something else I enjoy.

So...if something touches you, let the author know! It's so extremely gratifying!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Oh my Craziness

Or in other words, the book signing where everything went wrong.

It started with me thinking I had plenty of time. That's always a mistake. So there I sat, in my house, checking my email. It was 2pm and my book signing wasn't until 4:30pm. I was thinking about how I'd shower at 3pm and we'd leave when my 5-year-old got off the bus at 2:45pm...

Freeze. Something was wrong with that time table. All of the sudden I realized that meant I needed to shower NOW. So I spazzed and hopped in the shower with my alarm set to go off at 2:30pm. See, they're really careful with the Kindergartners around here (no complaints). None of them can get off the bus if their mom/dad is not standing out there waiting for them. Just in case the bus should come early, I try to get myself out there before 2:45pm, because I sure don't want to drive out to the school and gather up my poor child.

I showered quickly, got dressed, and ran out the door to wait for the bus. I didn't have time to blow dry my hair, so I figured we'd get a bit of a late start.

The bus happened to be ten minutes late.

By the time we got back into the house, it was 3pm. I was starting to feel a bit tense.

I was blow drying my hair when the electricity went out. What the ?!??? Did I blow the fuse? No, it turned out the electricity was out IN TWO CITIES. (Too much A/C people? Sheesh!) There was nothing left to do but gather up my blow dryer, kids, and make-up and hightail it to my mom's house thirty minutes away, since she was babysitting.

I got to my mom's house, finished my now-awful hair, put on my make-up, and started for the door. Wait. Wait just one moment. With my nice black slacks and black button-up blouse, I was wearing... white flip flops. How the heck did I manage to get out the door with those on???

I didn't have time to laugh. And definitely no time to get new shoes. So I borrowed a pair of my mom's. The only problem with that was that I wear a size 7 and my mom's a 5. I couldn't get my foot in her shoe. At least I had long pants; I fit my toes into the front and walked on the back part. Then I took a deep breath and left.

But it wasn't over. I got to the store and the manager had no memory of the email that distribution had sent out saying I was coming (which I know they sent because the CCed me in on it). I called distribution, and they had left already. I was starting to think this signing wasn't meant to happen.

But it did. They accommodated me and we said we'd iron out the kinks on Monday (we did). I put my problem behind me and sold some books.

I also came home with 3 blisters on the left foot and 5 on my right foot. I should've just worn the flip-flops.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

My new Genre

I've written a young adult Sci-Fi novel.

Shocked? Yeah, me too. I never thought I would write something with science fiction. Actually, I thought I'd written a dystopian, or a post-apocalyptic trilogy. And then I decided I wanted my novel to be something new. Something that's not happening all over the place already.

And guess what? It fits the definition of sci-fi. It has (and this is straight from Wikipedia):

* A time setting in the future, in alternative timelines, or in a historical past that contradicts known facts of history or the archaeological record.

*A spatial setting or scenes in outer space (e.g., spaceflight), on other worlds, or on subterranean earth. (although you don't see this until book 2)

*Characters that include aliens, mutants, androids, or humanoid robots. (book 3)

*Technology that is futuristic

*New and different political or social systems (e.g. a dystopia, or a post-apocalyptic situation where organized society has collapsed)

In fact, of the 7 qualifications, my book has 5.

It is officially a science-fiction novel. Now I need to do some revising to really focus on those scientific elements.

Ready for this new wave? Science fiction is next!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Chasing the Bookstore

This is a post that most authors will be unhappy to read, but really ought to know about it.

If you published with a small press, chances are you are selling your book on consignment to bookstores. What this means is that you give them your book, and they pay you after it sells.

What this really means is that it sucks to be you.

It's hard enough doing a book signing and trying to get people to buy your book. You glory over each one. Two sold. Four. Six books! If you're lucky, the bookstore will pay your right then and there for the books you sold. Some do that, and I love them.

But others will tell you it will be a few months. Others will tell you they're going to mail it right away. Chances are, if you haven't already, you will run into what I have: Bookstores that don't pay.

The first bookstore that did this to me, I believe it was oversight. I did a signing in December and they told me it would be three months. I put them out of my mind because three months was a long time away. Then around the middle of July, I realized, it's been more than three months. So I called, talked to the owner, and she said she'd mail a check. Problem solved, right? Wrong. Three weeks later I called again. Um, yeah, she forgot again. I called every day for four days until she put the check in the mail. Well, she said she did today. We'll see.

But another bookstore just doesn't seem to care. They told me to expect a check, and after three weeks I started calling to see when I should expect a check, and they got haughty with me. Started telling me I needed to talk to one person. And guess what? He doesn't have a set schedule. Nobody knows when he's in. But he's got my name and number, so he'll call me. Not.

I have two recourses: call them until they pay or write it off. Neither is a fun option, and I may never see that money no matter what I do. Ironic that I now wish I hadn't sold a single book in their store.

I've probably burned my bridges with those stores as being the author that's hard to work with. But you know what? I never want to sign books in their stores again, either.

My advice: Find out when they plan on paying you before you go there. But even more, GET IT IN WRITING. Write up an invoice with a due date, and have them sign it. I didn't do this. But believe me, I will from now on.

Anyone else have these experiences? Or is it just me???

Friday, August 19, 2011

In My Other Lives

I'm living my dream life right now. I'm married, live in a small but cozy house, and have three beautiful, wonderful children.

I'm also published. I'm an author, and in my free time, I write. I absolutely love this.

But there are other things I enjoy too. And sometimes, in the midst of doing another hobby, I'll sigh and fantasize about what I'd do if I had another life--or two--to live.

1) I'd open a restaurant. Every time I'm in the kitchen coming up with something totally awesome, complex, or simple, I think how fun it would be to have a restaurant. But I'd be the owner and the chef. What fun I'd have coming up with the menu, experimenting with different foods, watching people enjoy over what I cooked. I have half a dozen ideas for different kinds of restaurants. It's a fun, indulgent fantasy, because I do not have time to be a mom, a writer, and a restaurant owner/chef.

2) I'd go to beauty school and be a hair/make-up artist. Surprised you, didn't I? I love hair, and I love make-up. And I love doing it to myself and other people. But I have no schooling. Everything I do is trial and error. I would love to learn the "real way" to do things. And then I would love to practice on people, turn a normal hair-do into something phenomenal. And make-up, don't even get me started. But paying for beauty school would be a frivolous expense right now, because I don't have time to work in a salon. In another life...

3) I'd be an actress/singer. Yes, those fantasies from my childhood still linger. The fun and wonder of being on stage in front of an audience, the heart-racing excitement of performance. Sometimes I still think of it.

But I can't do it all. I love what I do, and I must content myself with that.

And you? If you could choose one other avenue for your life, what would it be?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Seriously Rude

I'm incensed.

I took my kindergartner to the bus stop this morning. It was an emotional experience, putting my little boy on the big yellow bus for the first time. There was a group already waiting, and one dad was talking to another mom (we all have little, little kids, btw. This bus only services the K-4 grades).

She mentions how they didn't wake up until 6:40am, and he said, "Holy S---."

Wait, what? No way. I thought about blowing that off, but I'm not that kind of person. So I laughed loudly and said, "Did you just swear in front of the kids?"

They stopped talking. He looked at me like I had a booger on my forehead. And he said, "I don't know. Did I?"

Oh come on. Seriously, he doesn't know what comes out of his mouth? But I just said, "Try and watch that."

We went on to have an awkward silence while we waited for the bus, but I was totally fuming inside. First, it infuriates me that some people think it's okay to talk like that at home in front of their small children. That's why we get kindergartners who swear. But that's his business. It's his house. However, he better not think it's okay to talk like that in front of other people's children. It made me so mad that he would be so careless as to not even know what's coming out of his mouth in front of all these small kids.

Hopefully he'll keep a good ten feet between us next time. I know he won't want to offend my kid's tender ears.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Book Signing Etiquette

It's embarrassing to have half a dozen book signings behind you before you're told, by a reader, no less, that you're signing the wrong page of the book.

Wrong page? You mean there's a right page?

Apparently, there is. I wish I'd known before hand. So, here it is, folks. You sign the TITLE PAGE. Although, according to Wikipedia, you can sign either the title page or the blank flyleaf at the beginning of the book. But of course I would never point that out to a reader, especially not one that is paying me to sign my book for them.

Here's some better advice: DON'T SIT DOWN.

I'm on a book tour right now, and I've done six book signings in the past three weeks. Of my sales, maybe two people approached my table and asked about my book. Everyone else, I approached. I stuck a bookmark in their hand. I didn't have to pitch myself or my book, though I was willing if people asked. The point being, I didn't have to convince them. Once I made people aware of me, they either wanted my book or they didn't.

Hint #1: If you're local, SAY SO. At first I didn't mention this in my introduction to people. But I found that people showed more interest when they realized I lived near them. So I started my intro with, "I'm a local author."

Hint #2: Emphasize that it's YOUR BOOK. You'd be surprised how many people just thought I was promoting a book of the month or something. So the rest of my sentence was, "I'm selling my book today."

My entire introduction goes like this: "I'm a local author and I"m selling copies of my book here today. Would you like a bookmark?" 90% of the people said yes. (You don't realize how many bookmarks you're giving away until suddenly you need to reorder more!) Of that 90%, probably 10% actually bought a book. But the rest walked away with a bookmark that tells them where they can find me and where they can buy my book, including my ebook. Success? I think so.

Hint #3: Offer CHOCOLATE. I have a little candy bowl that I carry around and offer to people along with my bookmark. It's a great ice-breaker.

The bottom line is, be on your feet. Greet people. Make sure they SEE you. Good luck!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Selective Meme

Caitlin Vincent tagged me in her most recent meme. These are cool, but normally I'm lacking the time and energy to do them. However, I have no blogpost written for today (though I've got some cool ideas), so I'm going to use her meme. But not all the questions. Just the ones that I think are interesting.

Oh, don't leave! I know you want to know more about me. Right? :)

Using exactly 27 words tell us your life story.

Raised in Arkansas, mission to Brazil, BYU graduate with English degree. Mom, wife, 3 kids. Author. Teacher. Mormon. Loves to cook, read, write, exercise, and sometimes sing.

Describe yourself using six words that start with the third letter of your middle name.  

Mammal, mom, maid, matriarch, modern, melodic

What is your middle name? (This is for research purposes only. Your response will not affect your chances of employment)


And...that's all I'm doing. Sorry, folks, I'm lazy. That's because I was out late partying at McDonald's last night. Yeah, I know you're jealous. :)  

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Friendly Fire

Let's talk a little bit about gossip.

I'm both a woman and a human, and I'll admit to being curious about people. We all like news. That's why we have it, right?

But sometimes gossip is more than just current events. It's catty. It's mean. It's pointless.

I've participated in gossip before. It might be fun for a moment, discussing people, feeling superior to them. But after that moment, I feel bad. I feel guilty for saying something that might be hurtful if they heard about it.

For argument's sake, I'm going to define GOSSIP ACCORDING TO ME.

Level 1: Talking about someone in a positive way. (Example: "Mary Jo makes the best desserts. You should ask her.")

Level 2: Talking about someone in a curious way. (Example: "Did he really beat all the others in the race?" or "I heard that he came in last place last year.")

Level 3: Talking about someone in a condescending, mocking way. (Example: "Her hair was so purple. Did you see the roots?" or "Nobody wears those shoes anymore. I guess she didn't get the memo.")

I'm going to say that we all like Level 1. If I found out that someone was talking about me in a pleasant way, I'd feel flattered. Pleased. We like to be well-thought of.

Level 2 isn't necessarily bad either, but here's where I see a problem with it: Most of the information is not coming first-hand. You're hearing it from someone who heard it from someone who heard it from someone. It might not be true information, whether good or bad, and it could still spread.

Level 3 is not good. That's just the truth. Why should we ever try to put ourselves above someone else? Why should we make fun of people? When I think of this type of gossip, I think it's all very superficial, based on someone's looks or clothing or family. It's not about who they are.

I'm taking a closer look at myself and resolving to steer clear of levels 2 & 3 as much as I can. Most of the time we don't want to hurt people, and this is a good way to make sure I don't. After all, we might be talking about our friends, or people our friends care about. We don't want anyone to feel like they've been shot in the back.

Just my 2 cents today.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Camera shot

One of the cons that came from cutting my villain's POV from Perilous was that the reader could no longer see the strings he was pulling on his end to capture the girls. Now the reader is as oblivious as the girls. But The Hand (Truman) is really quite clever...and I had a lot of fun imagining what he was doing while the girls were running. Here's another scene from his POV.

Truman studied the picture of the car Claber had taken on his digital camera. A red Ferrari, 2007. Silver pinstriping. But it wasn’t the car that held his attention. It was the license plate number. “Did you have any difficulties getting the address?”

Claber gave a quick shake of his head. “No. The police department in Montreal was happy to help us.”

Truman nodded. He kept most of his agents spread out, but Montreal was a big city, and it was right next to Victoriaville. He practically ran the Montreal police force. “And my flyer?”

“Printed in the Toronto Star.” Claber dropped a half-sized sheet of paper in front of Truman.

He scanned it. “Who's number is this?”

Claber grinned. “Officer Fayande.”
Truman recognized the name of the officer who had been to the house the day before. Fair enough. Truman put down the flyer. “Are the police going to the address right now?”

“Two of our own agents are going.”

“Excellent.” Truman stared at the door to his study. The barren walls mocked him. Nothing. Nothing to show for his life. He felt hollow and empty. Empty, like the safe downstairs. Well, that was only half-empty. He needed to start planning his next raid. But he couldn’t focus. He needed to find those girls. Sara. That necklace. The Carnicero’s daughter. The freedom they would bring him.

The phone rang and he snatched it up before it finished. “Yes?”

“Truman? Officer Fayande speaking.”

The man’s thick French accent slurred his words. Truman considered offering to speak in French, then decided against it. Let the other man trouble himself. “Did you find the residence?”

“Yes. The vehicle belongs to Christophe Coton. We found him at home, just returning from work.”

Truman glanced at his desk clock. Ten forty-five blinked at him in digital lines. Christophe must work at night. “And the car? The girls? Were they there?”

“No, sir. He borrowed the car to his girl, Nathalie. We got her address. He also had her cell phone.” A smug note entered Fayande’s voice. “We’re tapping it now.”

“Of course.” Truman didn’t congratulate him. He trained his men. If they entered a house, they bugged the phones. If they got a cell phone number, they intercepted the calls. He had an agent who owned a call center in Alberta. All of the tapped lines were digitally recorded and emailed to Truman on the hour. Something this urgent would be sent every ten minutes. “Are you on your way to Nathalie’s house?”

“Yes. We will be there in twenty minutes.”

“If she’s not there, find out where she took those girls.”

“Hopefully to the police,” Fayande said, and he and his partner laughed loudly across the phone lines.

Truman waited. Their laughter faded off. “Keep me informed.”

Friday, August 5, 2011

Weightloss Maniac

I have a confession to make. I'm about to bare my soul, and it makes me a bit uncomfortable. It might make you uncomfortable, too, so feel free to head on out. I won't be offended.

I consider myself a relatively normal person, with only a few harmless quirks, and everyone needs quirks, right? But if you were to write me in as a character in a book, I do have one fatal flaw: my weight.

You don't have to know me for very long to realize how much I obsess over it. I think about it ALL THE TIME. It only takes a few conversations with me to pick up on this because I tend to bring it up A LOT.

This has got to be annoying. I must drive everyone crazy.

I struggled a lot to lose weight after my third baby. I gained too much and I felt like I'd never lose it. And then I did. All of it.

Then a crazy thing happened. I lost even more. I weigh less now than I did in college. Which makes me so ecstatic, I can't even tell you. I should be happy. I am. I'm thrilled. But I'm also scared to death that I'll gain that weight back. I'm so terrified of it that I don't know how  be NORMAL.

That's my fatal flaw. Probably not my only one, but my biggest, I think. You know now, and I don't want to talk about it anymore. But if you feel like it, go ahead and confess. What's your fatal flaw?

I hope you all still like me. :)

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Friend Connect

You know those crazy moments when you meet someone for the first time, and feel a total connection with them?

This happened to me on Friday at my book signing. This beautiful young mother came in with her two boys, and we got to talking. She was visiting from California, staying with her parents for a few days. We talked about her sons, how similar they were to my sons. She was a lovely girl and in those few minutes I knew we would be friends if she lived around here.

As if to just prove this point, as she was walking away, she called out to her son, "Asher, come on."

For those of you who didn't realize it, Asher is not a very common name. There are a few here and there, but not a lot.

And for those of you who don't know me IRL, my son's name is Asher.

I said, "Did you just call him Asher?"

It was seriously this big, surprised laugh out loud moment that we both named our sons Asher. We really connected in those few minutes.

The sad part about it, I cannot remember her name.

I just love this picture. Taken from the Santa Barbara, CA animal rescue clinic.
She took my business card and said she'd find me on Facebook. So...I'm waiting. In the meantime, if you have a friend in California with a son named Asher and parents in Arkansas, tell me her name!

Isn't it interesting when that happens? When you meet someone that you just click with?

Monday, August 1, 2011

I'm THAT mom

Disclaimer: We don't go to Chick-Fil-A that often. Really. Maybe once every two months. We were just lucky that strange things happened the last time we went.

You know those kids that are dealing with aggression issues? The ones that you hope are listening when you tell your kids not to hit and be nice?

Well...lately we seem to be butting heads.

The other day my kids were playing in the kid area of Chick-Fil-A. Wonderful place, by the way. My kids can easily play for an hour. Anyway, suddenly my 5yo comes running out, sobbing. Tears streaming down his face. He's not a big kid, and he's a softie, but he doesn't usually cry like this. I grabbed him and asked him what was wrong and he said, "The boy in the green shirt punched me in the face."

What do you do in a situation like this? I looked around, but no parents were looking at us. I could only hope they were watching their kids in the play area. So I comforted my son, telling him it was probably an accident, it's a playground, these things happen. And I said, "Tell him if he hits you again, you'll have get your mom and I'm going to talk to him," crossing my fingers that that line wouldn't be crossed.

After all, you don't "talk to" other people's kids. That's their job.

Reasonably pacified, my son went back in. Five minutes later he came back, telling me that the boy had hit him again. And pushed him down the slide.

Groan. Now I had to go talk to him. I picked up Baby Girl and followed my son into the play area. We located the boy, who was sitting on the ground screaming at some girl. Where or where is your mom? I thought. I asked, "Did you hit my son?" He looked at me and shook his head. I said, "He says you hit him and pushed him. Did you?"

The kid got up and ran up the slide.

So. I did the unthinkable. Yes, I did. I walked back into the restaurant and yelled, "Does anyone know who the parent is of the boy in the green and white shirt?"

Everyone looked at me. She spoke up, and I know she was at least as embarrassed as I was. They went home. I went back to my table.

So, now you know. I'm that mom. Yes, THAT one.
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