Monday, December 31, 2007
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
Well, I'm not even going to get into all that has kept me away from the computer lately - suffice it to say life has been crazy for a couple of months.
An example would be what happened as I drove to work on the first day of my new job at a hospital in Chicago.
I'm cruising down the highway, trying to get to work before 7am since I'm supposed to be in two places at once at 7am (also long story) when suddenly a little voice inside says I should get off the road. I get off at the next exit, and start going the back roads, yet again, something inside says, "don't turn there, go this way" and I veer off my usual route. I have no explanation for this other than it was a strong feeling.
However, the road I ended up taking was a little scary. I'm on my way into Chicago, before daylight and taking the back roads in some rough neighborhoods when my car starts acting funny. I had passed the train station about a block or two before and think I should turn around and go back there.
However, there were no streets where I could turn around. The car started dying just as I'm in a dark area where I see a gang coming down the street. I'm thinking, "great, the car's going to die and so am I." At that point, I see a taxi and I'm begging my car to keep going long enough to follow it. It chokes, sputters and finally starts again - just long enough to follow the cab down the street to a gas station, where it gave up the ghost for good.
I asked the taxi driver if he could take a fare, but he seemed reluctant. It was getting late, and I was nearly in tears, because if I didn't make it to New Employee Orientation that day, I'd have to wait two more weeks to start, hence it would be another month before I got paid, and I just couldn't afford that.
Then a man walked up, helped me push the car out of the way (it was blocking traffic into the station) and asked where I was going. I told him where I was going, and he said he runs a shuttle service for people going to doctors' appointments and he was going right by there. Said he'd take me for free.
Somehow, I trusted him. Crazy, surely - even as I got in his van I wondered what the heck I was doing, but he was true to his word. He got me to work on time and for free, which was a good thing since once I got in the van I remembered that I had no cash and I had given Emily my credit card the day before, so I wouldn't have been able to pay for a cab anyway.
I thought about it later - if I hadn't gotten off the highway, if I hadn't changed my route, if I hadn't decided to try to follow that cab, I would have been seriously S.O.L. As it was, I felt someone was looking out for me.
I hope they stick around. I could use some more help. :)
So, how are the rest of you? How have the holidays been treating you?
Monday, December 24, 2007
Saturday, November 03, 2007
Marcia Colette (who is still riding high on her first print contract) asked for the final numbers of my two-week challenge.
Sadly, they are what they were in the last post - 84 pages out of 280. My best laid plan was to write as much as I possibly could in the two weeks before November first, when I knew I would have to do some serious job hunting. I decided to try to write at least 20 pages or 5000 words a day (depending on which came first) for those two weeks. (This was an effort to break out of some serious writer's block - or laziness, whatever you want to call it.) :)
Well, as it turned out, I got off to a good start the first 3-4 days, then I got two contract jobs that I needed to take (in order to take care of little details like food and shelter) and those contracts ending up being so much work that I've been putting in 12-15 hour days for the past week and a half. In fact, I need to work this weekend, but I'm taking a short break just to save my sanity. (Not to mention I'm fighting sinusitis with accompanying pain and dizziness.) Nevertheless, I have a lot of work and a Monday deadline looming, so I'll have to get cracking soon.
In the midst of that, I actually even signed up for NaNoWriMo - what can I say, I'm a glutton for punishment.
Soooo..... how did/do I think I'll accomplish all this? I had commented on Spyscribbler's blog recently that I was completely clueless when I started writing. (I'm still fairly clueless, though I like to think I've learned a little.) In some ways, that complete ignorance served me well when I was just starting out. See, I hadn't as yet learned that writing is hard, and getting published even harder. In my naive enthusiasm, I thought I could handle it.
It reminded me of a time, many years ago, when I moved five large bags of something - I believe it was cement mix. See, back then, I only weighed 103 pounds. My (now ex) husband and his brother had left these big bags blocking the back walkway to the porch and I went outside and moved them to the side of the house.
When the guys came home, they wanted to know where the bags were. I showed them where I'd put them. They asked how they got there. I wondered how stupid could they be, and said I put them there. They didn't believe it and asked me to show them. Still mind-boggled at what idiots they were, I picked up a bag and moved it. Sure, it was heavy, but it wasn't impossible.
They were stunned and I still couldn't figure out what the big deal was until I looked more closely at the bags. They weighed a hundred pounds each. The guys had left them in the middle of the sidewalk because they were too heavy to carry for any length of time, yet I'd moved them all several feet away.
There is not a doubt in my mind if I had actually read the weight on the bags before moving them, I wouldn't have been able to do it. In fact, after I knew they weighed only three pounds less than I did, I suddenly couldn't carry them as easily. I had been working on the assumption that they weighed about 40 lbs each. I knew they were heavy, but I had no idea. My ignorance gave me the belief that I could carry them, and I did.
I gave this post the tag "Magical Mondays" (even though it is Saturday) because that experience illustrates the power of belief. I might have done better with my challenge if I hadn't allowed the belief that I was too tired/too stressed to overtake me. On the other hand, since I did so well on the days I wasn't working, I now believe that I can handle Nano. Heck, if I could write 5000+ words a day (the equivalent of moving 100 lb bags for me) I'm sure I can write 1667.
That's all they figure it takes to complete NaNoWriMo. 1667 words a day.
Piece of cake. :)
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Such is life. Nevertheless, I did get a little more work done, lost one more pound (hooray - finally broke through that plateau) and even wrote another page on the short erotica piece I had put on hold. I just couldn't stand seeing all three of those blue bars staying in the same place week after week. :)
Oh, well. NaNoWriMo starts Thursday, so I'll just keep plugging away through November. How are the rest of you doing?
Friday, October 26, 2007
Quick update - still working hard for everyone else, not much time for me. I did get in a couple of words today - only 3 pages, but every little bit helps, right? I hope to take tomorrow as a painting day and Sunday as a writing day. Let's see if I can get as much done this weekend as I did the last one. That should help make up for the couple of days I had to miss.
From reading your blogs, it looks like everyone else is hard at work too. We're all getting closer to the finish line - keep up the good work!
Remember: "A professional writer is an amateur who didn't quit." --Richard Bach
And if you need more inspiration, make sure you have The Write Attitude. :)
Now, since I'm really tired, I'm off to relax a bit.
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
I'm hanging in, but not at the pace I'd hoped for. We were under Murphy's Law yesterday, and today... well, I'm adding a tag of "Magical Mondays" to this blog because let me tell you how it's been.
(Edie & Spy, this one's for you.) :)
Let's see if I can get the timeline straight since I'm still sleep-deprived.
A couple of days ago, I worried that I needed to find work. Spy said don't worry about it, the universe has a way of swooping in at the last minute, and Edie said she was visualizing money raining down on me.
Well, earlier in the month, I had sold a piece of artwork on eBay for a fairly significant sum but it got lost in the mail. Fortunately, the woman who bought it was absolutely lovely. When I explained the other day that I couldn't file an insurance claim on the loss until 21 days had passed (we'd already waited 14 on a package that was sent 3-day priority) she said she'd like to wait another week to see if it arrived, or have me paint her another one instead of give her money back.
That was extremely nice of her and a big relief to me. So, I said a few prayers that it would find its way to her, or that it would somehow work out.
Yesterday, I gathered my purse and keys to go buy the supplies to make her another one since I'd given up hope that we'd ever see the original again. As I entered the lobby of our building, I saw it. Sitting in front of my mailbox was the package -- returned to sender. I had mislabeled it and they'd sent it back. Now everyone wins. :) I had also told her about another painting I was working on, and she wants me to let her know when I'm finished so she can bid on that. What a sweetheart.
(That was also a welcome change from the fireman fiasco which had started out the morning!)
A little while later, I got an email from a former colleague asking for help with a project she had that's due tomorrow. Well, that meant less writing time, but it also meant more money, so I said, "sure."
A few hours after that, I got an email from my former boss (who is now working where I'd interviewed last Monday) who said that they will be making me a formal offer as soon as they finish with the Human Resources paperwork.
Yippee! More money, but hmm.... did I mention I signed up for Nano again, thinking I'd have time after all?
Today, I got two more emails with requests from others who'd like me to do some contract work for them. One is a fairly significant project due by November 12. It also pays pretty well.
Spy, you were right. :)
Though, did I mention I was trying to finish one novel before the end of October, and another one in November? But did I also mention I was broke and needed the money? LOL
So... Edie....is there any way you can visualize money AND time raining down on me? *grin* Oh, and best sellers for all of us. Thanks, you're the best. :)
Now here's a little bit of fun that I used with NaNoWriMo last year. I can't change the word count, but it does let me change the number of words and the action of the cartoon guy. Since the percentage almost matches my page count #, I thought I'd throw him in. (Of course, I may take Steve's advice and increase my font to 48pt - I should be finished at that rate.) :)
Sunday, October 21, 2007
Friday, October 19, 2007
Not much to report, actually. I haven't lost any more weight, but I haven't gained either, so that's at least good. Will just have to find a way to break through the plateau. However, I did manage to break through a bit of the writing plateau (a.k.a. writer's block, stall, laziness, whatever you want to call it.)
It went like this:
I'd been toying with the idea of doing NaNoWriMo next month, even though I know I'll need to be doing some serious job hunting and/or working then. (The interview I had Monday seemed to go well, but I still don't know anything.) I also just finished a book (one I'd recommend - there were a few issues with it, but overall, she made me laugh on nearly every page) called TIME OFF FOR GOOD BEHAVIOR by Lani Diane Rich. In the author biography, she mentioned the book was one she wrote during NaNoWriMo. I was impressed. I also remembered the book my friend Amber wrote during Nano last year - it was outstanding. Hmm, says I, should I take the plunge?
The only plunge was one of cold, sobering reality. I need November to focus on financial survival. Period. However, I continued to argue with myself, November is still two weeks away. What about Book in a Week? (BIAW) It may not be an official start time, but it might work. Stewart had also posted a short story writing challenge to his group to help break through blocks. There were still opportunities.
I did a bit of research--all of which suggest that rapid writing, writing past the inner critic--would make for magical happenings. I also read a lot of great blogs (mainly to avoid acting on my research) and decided to give myself a two week, 20 page a day challenge.
It started today, folks. I managed 25 pages so far, and I had no idea what I was going to write when I started. I considered finishing the novella, but that wouldn't have lasted more than a day or two. It had to be big, so I went with a kernel of an idea that I'd had floating around since last year, but never followed up on because I really had no idea what to do with it.
So it's true what they say. If you can make it past the inner critic, stifle the inner editor, you CAN just write and write and write. Doesn't mean it will all be good, but it doesn't have to be. The point is to just get it down. Revise later. But, gah, that's hard for me! It was made even harder by some great posts by Bernita and Steve Malley. Their advice kept ringing in my head, slowing me down, but I repeated the mantra, "You will fix it later!" and moved on.
I wrote for 6 hours today with many, many breaks. I can't do that when I work full time, so I want to do it while I can. Let's see if I hold up for two weeks. I hope so. 20 pages/day for 14 days=280 pages. That's 70,000 words or so. More than I've ever written for one piece.
So.... anyone want to join me for a crazy exercise? You don't have to make it 20 pages a day. Just as much as you possibly can every day for two weeks. Somewhere between BIAW and NaNo.
Wednesday, October 03, 2007
Now, the dear Edie Ramer tagged me to list eight random fact about myself, so let's see what I can come up with.
- I'm homeschooling my teenage daughter this year. So far, we're using an unschooling method while she gets away from the public school mentality. We'll see how it goes. (See the "The Teenage Liberation Handbook" by Grace Llewellyn for the why of that.)
- I just starting making Halloween crafts in the last couple of months - a departure from the fine arts I've been used to.
- I have a large collection of Harry Potter memorabilia. Professor Snape is my favorite.
- I love men with big noses. (Could explain the Snape fascination, lol)
- I speak Spanish fluently, understand most Italian, and know a few words of Russian.
- I miss my cat. My friend said if I say this one more time she's going to slap me, since all I ever did was complain about that demon cat from hell - so don't tell anyone I said so. :)
- I believe in the power of the mind to alter circumstances.
- I am so severely sleep deprived right now I can't think of an eighth fact. :)
Seriously, I need to sleep. Just the other day, I misspelled my own name. It's that bad. 8-)
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Fake surgery works as well as real surgery. (See the book "The Biology of Belief" by Bruce Lipton)
Placebos work as well as "real" medicine. (See just about any medical publication)
Fake acupuncture works the same as real acupuncture. See the following article:
Perhaps our thoughts are the most powerful medicine we can use.
Sunday, September 23, 2007
Now that I see I'm 33.2% finished with a story I was going to submit to Ellora's Cave, I'm motivated to get back to work on that puppy. Not a bad idea since the deadline for that particular line is 11/15, meaning it will need to be finished and polished by the end of October.
(If watching progress bars interests you, scroll down to nearly the bottom of the page and it's there on the left.)
One of my CP's from AZ and I were both published within a few months of one another last year, and while I haven't finished anything since, she's gone on to have four more books published. While I am thrilled for her, and she deserved it, I stopped and asked myself last night, what is holding me back? The only answer is: me.
So, here's to a good swift kick in the pants. It's time to get busy. Time to let that nagging little blue scroll bar and my friend's success spur me to work a little harder.
Are there any tricks or tips you'd like to share about how you motivate yourself? Please note, if you're one of those sickeningly organized people who never procrastinate, I don't want to hear from you. ;) Just kidding - I'd love to know how you do it.
Saturday, September 15, 2007
Oh, well. How are the rest of you doing with your goals from this past year? There are only have a couple of months left of 2007 - still not over, but time to get on the stick if you haven't done so already!
Saturday, September 08, 2007
On writing great love stories: http://www.writersstore.com/article.php?articles_id=11
On using the mind to create success (a Magical Monday on Saturday:) http://www.writersstore.com/article.php?articles_id=847
On creating great characters: http://www.writersstore.com/article.php?articles_id=8
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
Good old Goals, Motivation and Conflict. How I've scoffed at them, disdained their relevance, pshawed the very idea. How they've come back to bite me in the butt.
I mentioned a dream I had last night in a reply to Sidney from my previous post. Before I went to bed, I'd been wondering what to do about a WIP, how to fix the fact that it seemed a little dull. I proceeded to have a dream where one of the main characters spoke to me. Although he spoke about himself and the heroine in third person, his advice was "Send them on a quest."
He told me they needed to do something. Search for something. He said even if I just sent them to the grocery store, they needed to be looking for something.
I woke up and realized "he" was right. They weren't doing anything--mainly sitting around thinking about each other. Their motivations weren't clear, their goals nebulous at best. Conflict--not so much. Sure, there was some, but none of it was earth shattering. There wasn't much action or growth.
Who knew these things were important to a good story? :P
Sigh... now I have to go back and figure out what these people really want, why they want it, and how they might try to get it. Maybe even throw in a roadblock or two. And I here had a hard enough time just giving them names...
Meanwhile, back on the ranch, C.S. Harris has a great blog about "punching up" paragraphs. Well worth the read. (Of course, her blogs always are.)
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
Thursday, August 16, 2007
Anyway, once she was home and in bed (her second chance used up there - I let her live) I found I couldn't go back to sleep. I had been on a reading spree, but had nothing new around, so I decided to pick up some books from our condo building's library in the lobby. As I rifled through them, I found to my surprise an old category romance by Maggie Shayne. I didn't know she had written category before (I discovered her after her single title series had taken off.) I took it upstairs with me, though I don't often read category, I decided to give it a chance. It was Maggie, after all.
The book was called "The Littlest Cowboy". Sherriff Garrett Brand finds a baby on his doorstep - a baby he's sure isn't his, even though the note attached says the baby was named after him. Chelsea Brennan arrives at the ranch in search of her nephew and answers about her sister's death.
Sounds like normal category fare, no? In many ways, it was. But I also saw glimpses of what made her so popular in other genres. Parts of the book tugged at my heartstrings even when she wasn't trying, some made me laugh out loud. The hero was lovable, the heroine a little hard for me at first, but I came to care about her at the end for her bravery.
I've read a few categories lately and have been happy to give them a second chance. The Silhouette "Raintree" series is another example of category that I really liked.
Another second chance book for me was Nora Robert's "Morrigan's Cross." I'd tried to read it a few times since I'd heard such good things about it, but couldn't get into it. In desperation one night because I had no new books, I decided to give it another go. I didn't reread anything in the first few chapters even though I didn't remember any of it because I'd never made it beyond that point before. So, I started around chapter 3 or 4 and ended up really liking the book and look forward to reading the rest in the series.
I don't often give books a second chance. In fact, if a book does anything to seriously annoy me in the first few chapters, I'll usually toss it aside never to look at it again. (See Marcia Colette's funny take on this issue.)
Now I'm wondering if perhaps I've been too hasty. What about you - are there any books you decided to give a second chance and ended up liking?
Thursday, August 09, 2007
Tuesday, July 31, 2007
The Author's Prayer
"Our Father, which art in Heaven,
And has also written a book..."
That made me laugh out loud when I read it. I uncovered that gem at a website the great and fabulous Edie Ramer sent me today. She and some other authors have put together an inspirational site for writers that is definitely worth a visit (or several.) Here's the link: The Write Attitude - Inspiration for Writers.
If you need some inspiration, a kick in the pants, or both, that's the place to find it. :) I'm adding the label "Magical Mondays" to this post in spite of the fact that it's Tuesday, because this link came to me at exactly the right time, which is part of what my "Magical Monday" posts were about - the "coincidences" that fill our lives with magic.
Friday, July 20, 2007
There is a chapter in the book MAKING A LIVING WITHOUT A JOB, where the author exhorts the reader to treasure their "spaghetti days" - those days before they make it big and are living on spaghetti. She says to chronicle them, because one day you will look back and remember them fondly, even if they are difficult at the time.
Well, I'm entering into spaghetti days right now (though in our house, it's more like rice & beans with the occassional enchilada thrown in.) :) I handed in my resignation for the fourth time in three years, and while they once again tried to suck me back in, I only agreed to work two days a week through the end of October while my replacement gets up to speed.
You see, I realized that there are other things that are far more important to me than working for an outfit that I can no longer emotionally support. Things like taking care of my daughter and myself. Things that make me happy like writing and painting. The arthritis in my hands is getting so bad that there are days when I take my hand off the mouse and it remains in that clawed shape for several painful minutes after while I try to massage it loose.
It occurred to me that I don't want to spend years being unhappy and lose the use of my hands when I could be using them for things that I enjoy while I still can.
However, what that means, is that for a while I'll be quite entrenched in spaghetti days. And only when I can buy boxes 4 for a dollar. :)
I've been planning on starting a small publishing company, as well as sell my artwork online and elsewhere, but have run into a couple of small legal snafus which I hope to smooth out in the next month or two. I'll keep you posted.
Meanwhile, Magical Musings recently posted a link to the inspiring account of Sherrilyn Kenyon's journey to publication and all she went through. You can read it here. (Scroll down to the part called "And here's the story of how I got to where I am." It is worth the read.
Wish me luck as I move forward, as I'll be wishing it for all of you.
Sunday, May 27, 2007
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
Since a few male (and non-romance writing) readers have suggested lately that they might try their hands at romance and/or erotic romance, I thought I’d list a few publishers here. (Spyscribbler - check out Juno Books for books about strong female characters in roles other than the usual - I believe you were looking for something like that lately. :) (Unless I have you confused with someone else! lol)
Note: None of these publishers require agents to submit, and some are also open to genres other than romance.
In alphabetical order:
Aphrodites Apples (new e-publisher; they published my story “Unmasked” in their Masquerade anthology, volume 3. I’ve found them to be very nice and responsive - a fun group of women currently run this company)
Aspen Mountain (e-publisher of most genres)
Avon (large mainstream publisher of “large” romance - usually historical romance)
Cerridwen Press (e-books & paperbacks of most genres - the non-erotic offshoot of Ellora’s Cave)
Changeling Press (e-publisher of all genres of erotica - (romance/horror/sci-fi/fantasy, etc.) have been around a few years)
Cobblestone Press (e-pub, mainly romance & erotica)
Dorchester (large mainstream publisher of most genres of romance)
Ellora's Cave (e-books & paperbacks of erotic romance - was one of the first and largest publishers of romantic erotica in e-book form)
eXstacy eBooks (e-publisher of erotica and erotic romance)
Harlequin (large, mainstream, many imprints and “flavors”)
Juno Books (small, mainstream with focus on strong female characters - publishes mainly fantasy - not really romance, though can have romantic elements - their books look really interesting.)
Kensington (large mainstream publisher of most genres of romance)
Medallion Press (small mainstream - current openings many genres)
Mundania Press (small mainstream publisher - closed for submission until later this year - but check back)
Penguin-DAW (large mainstream publisher - this particular imprint of Penguin publishes fantasy and sci-fi, also with romance - you can check their ROC imprint as well for guidelines.)
Phaze (e-publisher of erotica/romance - been around a while)
Quanum Kiss (e-publisher of short romances - pays flat $10 for each accepted submission)
Samhain Publishing (mainly e-pub, but also some paperback, most genres with a lot of focus on erotic - currently only open to special themes so check their website for details. I have friends published with them, I’ve had exchanges with them also, and they seem very nice.)
Sourcebooks (small mainstream publisher, currently open to most genres of romance; also publishes non-fiction)
Stardust Press (new e-publisher - publishes most genres, though currently seems focused on erotic romance)
Triskelion (mainly e-pub, but also some paperback, most genres with a lot of focus on erotic romance - also currently actively looking for horror, fantasy and graphic novels)
Sunday, May 13, 2007
So many writer friends (online & in person) have had good news lately that I can barely keep up with it, but just thought I'd share a few highlights. To anyone I've forgotten, please forgive me. I'm working on 3 hours sleep here. :)
In no particular order:
Charles Allen Gramlich - his book, "Swords of Talera" is now available at Amazon. See his May 5th blog for the interesting story of how that came about. Like LaDonna, (see below) he kept it's contract a secret and I don't know how they do it. :)
Cynthia Eden received a 3 book deal from Kensington. Yay, Cynthia!
LaDonna Paulette has contracted two books with Tiger Publications. I am so happy for her! click on her name to read all about it.
Liz Kreger's "Forget About Tomorrow" will be coming out in paperback soon - Liz is an inspiration on many levels.
And last but not least, my dear CP, Amber , now has three books being published this year by various publishers. I am so happy and excited for her, but probably not nearly as much as she is - you see, not only is her dream of being published coming true, so is her dream of having another baby - a baby girl to go with her sweet little boy. Congratulations, Amber! :)
I know there are plenty of others - Stewart Sternberg has had some short stories published online recently; Mackenzie McKade just keeps churning them out - I've lost count how many she has now!
To all of you, congratulations. You make me want to do more. :)
Wednesday, May 09, 2007
Some things seemed obvious - what if something terrible happened to my daughter? But then again, what if something happened to me before she was old enough to be on her own? There's no one I can trust to look after her. Or what if I went completely broke, became homeless and couldn't care for her?
Well, soon after, I got sick and it was a scare for her and me (though I'm doing better now, thanks) then the payroll department at work messed up and didn't process my FMLA as sick leave, so I was out of a paycheck at the same time my ex decided he didn't feel like paying child support and is now two months behind - JUST when the people I've been subletting from said they needed to come back and I have to be out by the end of the month, and have no clue where or how I'll move. I'll not only not have the finances for it, but I also won't have much physical help packing & moving. My daughter has been fainting for some reason lately and hit her head on some bricks when she went down the other day. We spent 4 hours in the emergency room, where fortunately her EKG and CT were normal, but she does have a concussion. (She still has follow-up appointments with her doctor, but they seem to think it's probably just low blood sugar and nothing too serious, thank goodness.) Plus, this week she received all day detention every Saturday through the end of the school year for skipping so many classes.
So, let's see here... what did I say my biggest fears were?
That'll teach me.
But in spite of it, I'm surprisingly hopeful that things will work. I've only gotten tiny tastes of my biggest fears lately, and while they were nerve wracking, I'm grateful it wasn't worse.
I used to think one of my biggest fears would be revealing too much about myself and appearing foolish. I also used to fret over what people would think/say about my work. You know what? That's nothing. Barely worth giving a second thought.
Stewart blogged today about looking for that delicious thrill of fear that he used to get from horror stories or his own imagination, but which no longer have much effect. I think it's just that real life has so many boggarts hiding in every cupboard that ghosts and ghoulies are child's play in comparison.
What does your boggart look like? Have you ever used it in your writing?
Saturday, April 21, 2007
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
Here's a chance to win a free copy of my e-book, "The Masquerade, Volume 3" published by Aphrodite's Apples.
Just send me an email (kate at katesterling.com) with the names of all the Masquerade anthology authors (volumes 1 through 3) by midnight Friday to be entered into the drawing. (Here's a freebie - I'm in volume 3) :)
I'll announce the winner here (and notify him/her by email) Saturday morning.
(By the way, you must be 18 or older to qualify - the stories in this anothology have erotic content that may not be suitable for everyone.)
Saturday, April 14, 2007
with this story generator. I was feeling a bit stuck, googled "story idea generator" just to see if there were anything out there that might help, and found this: Seventh Sactum.
I loved the Grimoire of Questionable Spells. I think I'll be back on track soon. :)
Thursday, April 05, 2007
Tuesday, April 03, 2007
Something funny happened yesterday and I thought I'd share. I was reading last month's Desert Rose RWA newsletter and saw this name in there... for the briefest flash of a second, I thought, "that name looks familiar" (and you know where this is going, right?) - and yes, it was my own. But it wasn't "Kate Sterling" -- it was my "real" name I didn't recognize.
I'm not sure when this happened; when I embraced "Kate" so fully. In the beginning, it was awkward for me to see the name Kate in emails and blog posts. I felt like a fraud. Now, it seems the most natural thing in the world. The "other me" thinks being a writer named Kate Sterling is pretty cool. ;)
The framed tag you see in this picture came from the rose they hand out at the meeting (the rose is surrounding the frame) whenever someone makes a first sale. I keep it on my desk next to my computer. A rose by any other name...
If you write under a pseudonym, do you find it odd to hear it, or to see that name in print? Did you get used to it after a while? Did you, like me, forgot what your co-workers actually call you?
Now, this post is about to become a "two-in-one". Since it's Tuesday, and I missed another Magical Monday, I thought I'd post a list of some of the "magical" books I've read lately. I've had an interesting and unexpected side effect to a new medication I've been taking: it seems to have increased my concentration slightly. Go figure. But I'm all for it. Because of that, I've been reading up a storm the last few days so I'll share some of the magic. :)
"The Spontaneous Fulfillment of Desire" by Deepak Chopra (Edie, Ladonna & Michelle, if you're out there - you might like this one.)
"A Long Way Gone" by Ishmael Beah (I just started this one)
Fiction, Terry Pratchett
(Edie, you said you hadn't been able to get into his books, and there were others of his that I had taken out from the library apart from these that didn't "grab" me either. However, I loved these four as well as The Wee Free Men, A Hat Full of Sky, and Wintersmith - I think you might like those and the ones listed here. Of course, you never know.)
Fiction, other authors :)
"Fear No Evil" by Allison Brennan
"Storm Front" by Jim Butcher
"Possession" by Jennifer Armintrout
"Silverlock" by John Myers Myers (working on it now - I'm reading it and A Long Way Gone concurrently. The non-fiction is sad so far, so I need Silverlock to lift my spirits after - so far it's working.)
I also have a couple more that I bought at the same time in the "waiting to be read" pile. One is by a young local author, so I'm going to read it next when I'm done with the Silverlock and A Long Way Gone.
I also started writing again, and have to admit, I see the influence of Pratchett in the new stuff. But that's ok, because it feels very natural to me. I'd written other things that were similar before I ever read his work, so I'm telling myself it's not all a rip off. :)
Friday, March 23, 2007
It's been a while since I posted a "Magical Monday" and since I'm going to be pretty much out of commission for a while, I thought I'd post one now.
Some time ago (and right now, I can't remember where), I read a suggestion about divination. It was something along the lines of: If you want to know the answer to a question (esp. a "yes or no" answer), say aloud that in the next few days, if the answer to your question is yes, you will see X (fill in the blank with your own item - something unusual), but if the answer is no, then you will Y. Now, it has to be something that you wouldn't normally see. A purple polka-dotted car driven by a clown, for instance (unless you live in an area where those are common).
As you've heard (read) me whine for several months now about my job, I decided recently that if I saw a red Volkswagen bug on my way home from work, the answer was I should quit. (There are tons of silver and blue ones around this area, but I hadn't seen a red one.) Sure enough, I started seeing them everywhere I looked. There were so many, I said, "Ok, if I see a green, yellow & white striped car then I know this is really the answer" (since, let's face it, basing such a huge decision on a red Volkswagen seems pretty stupid, and what's the likelihood of seeing such a striped car?)
Well, guess what I saw within the hour?
For several days, it seems I was plagued with red Volkswagens and weirdly striped cars until I finally typed up my letter of resignation. As I sat shaking at my desk, I said a fervent prayer asking whether this was the right thing to do, and was rewarded with a sudden, clear mental image of a red VW, so taking a deep breath, I went into my boss's office.
Here's what happened next:
She started asking me questions about why I wanted to do that, what were my plans, etc. As we talked, some other things came out that I wasn't expecting. She suggested I make a doctor's appointment to take advantage of my insurance while I could, and wait a few days before making a decision.
I said I would, and the next day, I drove to the hospital passing red VW's and weird, striped cars on the way. It turns out there were things going on with me that I didn't know about and that are going to require some intensive treatment. If I hadn't decided to quit and hadn't had such a great boss, God only knows where I might have been a month or two from now. As it stands, I will be taking a medical leave of absence for the next several weeks, and will still have a job (if I want it) when I get back.
While I wouldn't normally recommend such a precarious method for making life-altering decisions, I have to say that red VW probably saved my life, and by extension, my family.
Sunday, March 18, 2007
Recently, Amy Knupp was a guest blogger at Magical Musings and she asked when was the last time anyone had read category romance. I'll admit, it had been many, many years for me with the exception of one that had been written by a friend.
So, when I noticed the other day that the little lending library in the lobby of our condo building had a Signet Regency on the shelf, I picked it up. I hadn't read one of those since I was in the sixth grade, swooning on the swingsets with my neighborhood friends as we exchanged Barbara Cartlands.
The one I found was written in 2000 by Laura Matthews, called "A Prudent Match." I must admit, I was pleasantly surprised. I enjoyed it. There were a few anachronisms that annoyed me (I find it hard to believe a well-brought up young lady of that time would lightly say "God," "Lord" and certainly not "More power to her"); nevertheless, it was an enjoyable light read. I liked the way she jumped right into the story and the way she maintained the sexual tension.
I'm definitely going to read Amy's books, and maybe take another look at category romance. Maybe it's time to become reacquainted with an old friend.
Saturday, March 10, 2007
I've fallen in love... with Terry Pratchett. I'd heard good things about him, but only recently started reading his work. How I'd love to be so prolific, clever and talented. I picked up "The Wee Free Men" from a book store a while back just because this line on the inside cover got me: "The toad looked a bit shifty."
It's allegedly a children's book, but it's a children's book in the same way Harry Potter is: it appeals to all ages. I went last night to get the next two in the series - one is still only available in hardback, but that didn't deter me.
If you're a J.K. Rowling, Douglas Adams, or A. Lee Martinez fan, and haven't as yet discovered the wonder of Terry Pratchett, I highly recommend his books. I can't believe it took me so long to find him.
Monday, March 05, 2007
Well, this will be the second week in a row I've had to miss my "Magical Monday" post. I've been working 50-60hr weeks the past two weeks, with two more weeks of the same to go, so I'm just to brain fried to post anything. The real miracle will be if I survive this month. :)
I do have a publisher's chat tonight starting at 9EST, or 8 central if you'd like to stop by. I'll try to remember to be there. I'm terrible - I always forget, and tonight my daughter needs the computer for a while for homework, so I'm hoping she'll be done in time. If not tonight, another Monday then.
Have a great week!
Thursday, March 01, 2007
The Masquerade Volume 3 was released today, which took me by surprise. I was expecting it to be later in the month so I'm sitting here going, "But...but...I'm not ready! I don't have my bookmarks printed! I haven't gathered my promo items!"
Story of my life. :)
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
Tuesday, February 20, 2007
Michelle Diener and Sabrina Luna have both recently tagged me to post 10 weird facts about myself, so here we go:
1. I talk to myself all the time. Loudly. With large gestures. It's highly embarrassing when I get caught.
2. When I was little (3-4), I used to dig holes under our backyard fence so I could be free. My parents thought it was the dog and got rid of him. After they filled in the holes, I climbed on the dog house, into the nearby tree, swung off a branch over the fence and dropped into the field behind us.
3. I like my pizza cold and my ice cream warm.
4. I'm 43 years old and have a large collection of Harry Potter merchandise.
5. A few years ago, I lived next to a church where the parishioners were so loud and obnoxious (they'd park in my driveway blocking my car, stay outside my window talking until 2am even though I politely asked them several times not to) so I finally got sick of it and squirted them with a water pistol. (Yes, I'm going to hell)
6. I wanted to be a tree when I grew up. Still sounds like a good occupation.
7. When I was about 4 or 5, I tried making my own shampoo and selling it door to door. When that didn't work, I went around the neighborhood and sold all my mother's underwear while she was in the shower. (It sold - you have to understand that my mother was HOT and wore sexy underwear.)
8. I'm directionally challenged. I used to take "short cuts" on my way home from school and be lost for hours, even though I never recognized I was lost--I figured I'd get there eventually. Once my mother even had to call the police.
9. I'm still directionally challenged. (see #10)
10. I don't know my right from my left. If you want me to look or turn a certain way quickly, I can't do it. I have to think about it for several seconds or ask somebody which way that is. I can handle N, E, S & W because those are fixed points, but I've never gotten a handle on left or right - confuses the heck out of me. I hate when I'm in heavy traffic and see a sign on the road that says "merge left" ahead because I never end up in the correct lane.
Monday, February 19, 2007
Since I've been blogging a lot about the power of belief lately, I thought I'd share this experience.
Last summer, I was having a lot of chest and back pain. I'd had back pain for many years but had resigned myself to living with it. Well, one day at work the pains were particularly bad, accompanied by symptoms of a heart attack, so I called my doctor and she sent me to the emergency room.
Fortunately, it wasn't a heart attack, but they found a fracture in the upper middle of my back (which explained the chest pain). They also saw degenerative disk disease, arthritis, pinched nerves - you name it, they found it. I went to a spine specialist who looked at the xrays and took some more of his own, and he wanted me to wear a brace. He also wanted to run some more tests, because he thought it looked like I was born with spinal deformities. So, I had to go someplace else to pick up the brace--they aren't in. I had to schedule more tests and an MRI -- they couldn't get me in for three weeks.
In the meantime, I was in a lot of pain. I remembered listening to a Wayne Dyer tape where he talked about his wife shrunk a thyroid tumor through visualization and diet. So every day I started telling myself I was not in pain and there was nothing wrong with my back. I pictured it healed and healthy. If I walked and felt pain, I kept saying to myself that I was NOT in pain and after a few minutes, I wouldn't be. Every night as I went to bed, I'd lie there for a long time telling myself there was nothing wrong with my back, picturing it as perfectly well, and saying "thank you" to the powers that be for healing it.
Three weeks later, I had the other tests. There was nothing wrong with my back - it was just fine.
Right now I have a bit of a headache and stomache--but no, that's NOT true... repeat after me: I am NOT in pain. :)
Saturday, February 17, 2007
As I drove home from work yesterday, I realized a difference in the way I felt after I spoke with my boss/friend compared to how I'd felt when I'd arrived at work that morning. When I got in the car, I knew the difference was hope. I was still aggravated, still worried about how I could work things out, yet I felt ever so slightly different than I had before, and knew it was because there was the tiniest ray of hope. So small you'd miss it if you blinked, but it made a difference.
Last night, I started reading the book, "Making a Living Without a Job" by Barbara Winter, and went to bed at 1:30 am even more hopeful. I feel much better about going to work next week because now I have other things in mind which working there will help me accomplish.
The difference is that before I used tell myself that working there allows me to accomplish certain things: pay bills, buy food, have insurance, etc. But that still didn't make me happy. Mainly because it felt so final.
Now, I'm looking at it as, "Ok, I can get through this stressful week because it will not only give me the money to pay my bills and the insurance to go to the doctor, it will also fund the things that I know I will be doing soon that will make me happy. Then I will be leaving there to work for myself." You'd think that should have been obvious all along but it wasn't, because I didn't really have the hope or belief things would change. I didn't see how they could. I thought I was stuck.
However, one of the best things about this book so far was an example Barbara gave of how she was determined to go to England one year. She didn't have the money to do it, and didn't know how it could happen. But she didn't worry about the HOW. She focused on the WHAT. She visualized herself there every day. She got her passport renewed and put it on her dresser where she'd see it every day. She got travel brochures and guidebooks. She spent every evening planning her trip. She even made this daily affirmation: "I am going to London this year and it will be a gift." That's some affirmation - she didn't even say "I am going to London and I'll be able to afford it" she said it would be a gift.
She went on to enter every contest for a trip to London, but several months passed and nothing. Her birthday was in October, and she thought "Ok, maybe I'll get the gift for my birthday." Birthday came and went and no trip. A couple of weeks later a friend called, said she had a ticket for a trip to London that she wasn't going to be able to use, and would Barbara like to have it.
It took almost a year, but she got exactly what she wanted. She didn't worry about how it would happen, she just kept believing that it would.
It reminded of the time I made a list of the job I wanted and even though I had no idea how that might happen, I carried it around with me all weekend anyway. By that Monday, I had news of it, and a few weeks later, I had the job. Funnily enough, that is now the job I want to leave. It has changed from the time I started--it's no longer the job I applied for and got--so I'm feeling it's time for me move on. Make a new list. And this time, I'm not going to worry so much about how I'll get there. I'll just have faith that I will.
Thursday, February 15, 2007
Someone I work with mentioned today how many times she felt like she'd quit if she didn't have a mortgage, then went on to say that there were dreams she'd had of starting her own business, but was afraid to pursue it because she was afraid of not having enough money to get by in the beginning. She then said that she was starting to think that if she ever took the plunge, she'd probably work harder at it because it would be sink or swim. She was questioning whether to just forge ahead and damn the torpedoes, as several other people she knew had done.
I nearly fell over, because before she started talking, I had just been thinking that exact same thing. I keep telling myself to hang on a little longer, until I have enough money saved to last a while, but then some days I feel like I can't hold out a second longer. I've been wondering if I should just take the plunge and know that I had to make a success of what I wanted to do because there would be nothing to fall back on.
It's hard to balance dreams and responsibility. I have a responsibility to my daughter to make sure we have a roof over our heads along with food & clothing. I have a responsibility to the credit card companies I do business with to not file for bankruptcy. ;)
But don't I also have a responsibility to myself to live a good, full, and fulfilling life? Just how selfish can I be? Who'll care two thousand years from now if I quit my job or not? Of course, my daughter will care significantly for the next 4-8 years at least. (rest of high school & college) But to comment on the obvious: life is short, and nothing is guaranteed.
Today, Edie at Magical Musings asked the question, "Do you wake up planning on doing one thing and knowing you should do another?"
My answer: Every single day.
The question I ask is, what is it I truly ought to be doing? Recently (and unfortunately, I can't recall exactly where at this moment), I read that if at any time we ever desire to create--to play music, to write, to dance, to paint, even to start our own business--it is the Universal Spirit attempting to create through us; and should we heed this, we will be led in the right direction. I'd like to believe that. The risks are more than a little scary, though. Do I follow my dreams and perhaps fall on my face, or do I stay in a "safe" place (that could turn me loose at any moment anyway, should they fall into trouble) - how do I hedge my bets?
Do you ever feel that way?
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
I read this article today about how believing an activity is exercise, and good for you, causes it to be more effective.
The article said that people who think they're getting a good workout obtain more benefits than those who perform the exact same activities, but don't think what they are doing is exercise.
Harvard researchers did a study where hotel cleaners were told that their room cleaning each day was enough physical activity to maintain a healthy lifestyle. At the end of four weeks, they were more trim and fit than their peers who weren't given this message, even though they'd made no other changes in their lifestyles.
It reminded of another article I'd read a long time ago showing that muscles could receive the benefits of exercise just by a person's thinking about exercising them. Someone studied a group who did nothing different except visualize themselves exercising, and some weeks later, their muscles had grown.
This brings me back to the discussions of the power of visualization and positive thinking that I've been involved in on other blogs, as well as here. Boob Wishes, for instance; the book, "Write it Down, Make it Happen"; The Secret. All of these things, (and including many religious traditions) seem to work off the premise: thoughts have power. Picture it, believe it, and it will happen.
Now, I'm off to picture my headache going away, as well as myself being fit and trim. :)
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
I missed Magical Mondays yesterday because I'm not feeling well. In fact, I'm home from work sick today.
...yet for some strange reason, I'm here in front of the computer... Okay, in my defense, I had to get on to see if my daughter's school closed because of the snow (they didn't - woohoo! I get to go back to bed in peace.) Bad mother!
Anyway, I've got some good stuff for future MM's that I hope to get up there at some point. In the meantime, though, I've got a question going at my other blog that I'd really like for people to answer if they'd be so kind. Michelle and Edie got me curious about something and now I want answers, darnit. :)
Friday, February 09, 2007
Hmmm.... then why do the deodorant do such big business?
For women, apparently there's nothing like the smell of a man's sweat.
Researchers at the University of California at Berkeley said women who sniffed a chemical found in male sweat experienced elevated levels of an important hormone, along with higher sexual arousal, faster heart rate and other effects.
Apparently, it also elevates mood and contributes to an overall sense of well-being.
Can't say that sour oniony smell ever did it for me quite like that. Give me a man fresh out of the shower, still smelling of shampoo and his own sweet (clean) self. That will get my heart rate going, among other things. :)
Sunday, February 04, 2007
Real life is taking center stage right now, so I'll have to miss this week's Magical Mondays. Meanwhile, to get your magical fix, the Samhain Weblog had a nice post on unexplainable events, and Susan Miller sent me this link that you might enjoy.
I hope to be back to the blogs (mine and yours) sometime next week. Be well everyone.
Saturday, February 03, 2007
I was blog hopping this morning through some of my favorites, still a little crabby from a long, hard week, still questioning whether I should even attempt to write romance being the cynic I am, and came across this.
I'm going to go find some more Kleenex now.
Wednesday, January 31, 2007
Congratulations to my CP Amber on her recent new contract! That makes two contracts in the past couple of months. She sent the email with the title "boob wishes" but I also think it's been a lot of hard work and the fact that her talent grows and grows.
Keep those boob wishes tucked in people! :)
Tuesday, January 30, 2007
What has Jennifer Lopez done to her face?
Normally, I don't talk about celebrities. Don't think about them much, don't really care. However, I saw this photo from her new video on Yahoo a little while ago and was horrified.
The reason why this one bothers me so much is because every time my half-Latina daughter says to me she wants to take her college fund money and get a nose job, I've always pointed out Jennifer Lopez's nose, how it's similar to hers, and how J.L.'s considered one of the most beautiful women in the world.
Now I guess I'll just have to say how sad that even with all her fame and fortune, she still didn't think she was good enough.
Sunday, January 28, 2007
(Once again posted on Sunday...may have to change the name) :)
There have been many times when my intuition prodded me to do--or not do--something and if I listened, things went well. If I didn’t, every single time I was sorry.
For example, last year my brother was out late. I knew he had gone to his favorite “watering hole” but felt he should have been home by a certain time and he wasn’t. Yet whenever that happened in the past, I would call to check on him and he always just fine--usually waiting for someone to get off work, or had gone home with one of the women who worked there. I could tell he got annoyed with me for calling to check on him (I usually called to see if he needed a ride home so he wouldn’t drink & drive) so I stopped calling, trusting him to be a big boy and take care of himself.
Well, that particular night, I was very agitated. I couldn’t stop worrying about him. I paced the floor, asking my daughter every few minutes if she was sure he hadn’t called. (She’s not so good at passing along messages.) I even picked up the phone several times to make sure it was working, yet hesitated to call him. ‘He probably just went home with a waitress,’ I thought. Since he didn’t really like me calling to check on him, I was torn. At one point, I even got dressed because I had a strong feeling that I should drive around to look for him, then told myself I was being silly. He was a grown man, and he would call me if anything were wrong.
For three hours, it went on like that, my intuition screaming, “Something’s wrong!” my brain saying, “leave it alone.” Finally, the doorbell rang, followed by loud pounding. It was my brother, out of breath and in pain. He’d lost his keys and tried to walk home from the bar (stubbornly refusing to get a ride from anyone, thinking it was only about 3 miles, he could handle it.)
Now, for most, that wouldn’t have been such a bad thing, but this man has only one leg and a bad heart--AND--the dingbat had stopped at the store then tried to carry home a 50lb bag of salt as he went. His foot bled from blisters, and the end of his one thigh swelled painfully around the prosthetic leg. He was also upset because he’d tried to call several times once he felt he couldn’t go on. I didn’t see how that could be, since I’d hung near the phone most of the night checking to see if it worked. I’d even looked once to see if the ringer was turned off, but couldn’t find a switch that indicated it. He hobbled over to the phone and found the sound switch. Sure enough, it was off--my daughter had forgotten she’d turned it off. (teenagers--grrrr)
I told him why I had hesitated to call, and he understood, but said he would have begged me to come get him. He finally abandoned the salt about a mile into the trek, and sat on it nearly crying from pain, calling over and over. I asked what time that was, and it was about the same time I’d gotten dressed with the idea to drive around looking for him. My intuition was right, and I didn’t listen to it.
Of course, he could have called someone else, or even a taxi, but he’s stubborn, thought he could do it, and didn’t want anyone to witness his embarrassment. (Sorry--cat’s out of the bag now.) :)
The point is, though, this wasn’t the only time something like that has happened. My intuition will prod me and if I listen, it’s good; if I allow “reason” to take over, I’m always sorry later. Yet, it is still almost impossible for me to follow my intuition when logic has arguments against it. Do you ever have that experience? Are there times when you listened to that little nagging voice in your head and it was exactly the right thing to do, or times you didn’t listen and you were sorry? How do you override your so-called “good sense” and go with your gut?
Friday, January 26, 2007
If you asked my daughter, she'd assure you most vehemently that I possess neither. But I'm not concerned about fashion sense (she's right--I have none), I'm concerned about writing.
I've mentioned before that I don't think I'm a very good judge of my own work, and lately that seems to keep hitting me between the eyes. I think I vacillate between two very different styles: one whimsical and sparse, the other serious and verbose. I have the most fun with the whimsy, feel it's "truer" to my voice, yet I've noticed people tend to respond more positively to the serious stuff--the stuff that I think is bad, over the top and the purplest of prose even as I write it.
Could it be that my attempts at humor are like my attempts to wear blue jeans--shouldn't be done, especially with elastic waists? Are those bits I dismissed as painfully purple really the sweater I'm embarrassed to wear, yet always receive compliments on it when I do?
I honestly don't know. How do you know if your stuff is good or not? Do you think you're a good judge of your own writing?