Thursday, September 27, 2012

Review Friday...

If you're a writer, Indie or traditional, here are a couple of books you might be interested in.

The First Ten Steps - Ten proven steps to build a solid foundation for your ebook using free social networking by M. R. Mathias.
There are a lot of good ideas in this book. It's a good fast read.

I have the Kindle for iPod version.

Secrets of Successful Writers - Authors Speak About Writing and Publishing in the Digital Age Edited by Darrell Pitt.
50 interviews covering a typical day of writing, plot or not, genre, and advice for writers just starting out. Keep it handy and read an interview while waiting at the car wash or doctor's office.

I have the Kindle for iPod version.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Saturday night...

I decided to order MSOffice for home, it's the least expensive version, so I can format my mss for ebook upload. Later, I'll probably order Parallels Desktop so I can run the other programs that don't work with my new system. The software hasn't arrived yet so formatting is put off a bit longer.

I spent last weekend in another favorite pastime of mine. A vintage trailer rally. This one was at Lake Tahoe, which is about 20 miles from where I live as the crow flies. Towing a trailer it's a bit farther, up and over a Sierra pass. It was fun and there were about 65 vintage trailers at the event.

This weekend I spent sick with a cold. I haven't had a cold in ages. I was getting downright cocky about not being sick in so long. It's not a bad cold, but enough to dampen my enthusiasm for anything other than sitting on the sofa and reading a good book. I started Maid to Match by Deeanne Gist. An historical set at the Biltmore Estate. I also watched the LA Dodgers get shut out by the Cincinnati Reds, though I slept through most of it. The other thing I did was spend time searching stock photo sites for another book cover. I think I found something that will work well except in the novel the heroine's hair is red and curly, the model in the stock photo has straight blonde hair.

I still need to do a final read through of my mss and make the small corrections found by my last reader, Mom. I'll do that in the coming week while I wait for Office to arrive.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Saturday evening...

I finished the final revisions of HER SCOTTISH CEO last night at 12:30am --Yea!--and worked on it the night before until 2am. I was enjoying reading the story and clarifying some last issues. I'm so happy with the results of all the re-writes, edits and revisions. I have learned so much about writing romance since I started this novel a few years ago. I have an idea for a related story, too.

This mss holds a special place in my heart for a few reasons. One, it was inspired by my trip to Scotland where I spent four weeks painting watercolors of the Greg Glen. Second, at the time I wrote this mss I continued to cranked out several more novels, in about four weeks each. (Little did I understand then the amount of time it takes to learn the proper elements needed in a novel.) Third, this is my third mss and as I wrote it I felt myself seriously pulled into writing to the point that I worked at it, studied the craft, and thought about it constantly. (Mss #1 has a beginning, middle and an end, some conflict and angst but was never finished. Mss #2 took over ten years as I wrote only now and then when the muse struck me. It was just a pastime. It's full of beginner mistakes!)

I talked to my mom about her offer to proof read HER SCOTTISH CEO (see yesterday's blog). She started reading it this afternoon before dinner. I fixed BLTs with our neighbor's home grown tomatoes, and big bowls of chilled watermelon squares while she proof read. She went right back to proof reading after dinner and put it down at chapter five. So she's almost halfway through already. She says she's enjoying it and didn't want to put it down. She also says it's very clean but has found a few typos.

I upgraded my system last week and now MSWord longer works. Since I don't like Word all that much—it's too intuitive—I bought Pages so I could open my Word docs. I like Pages so far. Then today I remembered that in the book THE SMASHWORDS STYLE GUIDE, author Mark Coker says to format your book in Word. The Smashwords "Meatgrinder" works best with Word. Smashwords is one of the ebook purveyors I want to use. I will either have to partition my hard drive, buy Word or an upgrade, or buy a new laptop (which I know I will need in the next year or so) and reinstall the older system on my older laptop. Now that my book is nearly ready to publish I've got to figure out this system stuff. It's always something.

I still think I'll have no problem meeting my goal of publishing HER SCOTTISH CEO in the fall. After all, technically, fall lasts from September 21 to December 21. I see meeting my goal sometime in early October.

How's your weekend going?

Friday, September 7, 2012

Friday and Family proof readers...

My writing buddy and I were discussing family proof readers the other day and how it’s hard to hand over a mss to, say, your mother to proof read. My mother is very good at spotting typos and grammar problems. Her mother is a professional editor! Both our moms are interested in reading our mss. But do we really want them to read what our imaginations come up with? My writing buddy doesn’t think her mom will relate to her genre of paranormal/vampire romance. I think my mom might be uneasy with the more sensual scenes, even though I write sweet, G-rated romance. 

My mom has read a couple of my mss. Poor thing, she didn’t know what she was getting into with my first couple of novels. I made all the beginners mistakes. 

I am doing the last polish of my novel HER SCOTTISH CEO, which publishes this fall and my mom asked to read it. It’s already been edited professionally and I do need someone to go through it once more to look for grammar and typos on my revisions (because I’m comma challenged and I tend to write in fragments. Let’s face it, I suck at grammar) and my mom is very good at spotting both. 

But here’s the thing, when someone close to you reads your mss are they confusing the characters, actions and experiences with you? Are they thinking you’re writing from your own experiences? For example, I have been a watercolor artist for over 30 years, and one summer I spent four weeks traveling the Great Glen of Scotland painting watercolors. They say write what you know, and I know art and I think I know enough about traveling in Scotland to use that experience in my mss. So I got this idea for a story about an American watercolor artist who travels to Scotland. That’s were my background comes in. But Marcie, my heroine, meets as Scotsman, falls in love, faces crisis, and must make hard decisions. That’s where my imagination comes in. 

Marcie and Greg share some intense intimate moments. I love that scene and I think I did a good job of creating a sensual moment without being graphic. I think my characters share a close moment without going all the way (though they nearly do). Do I really want my mom to read this? I write from my imagination and my fantasy. Her genre of choice is not romance, though she does read them occasionally. She prefers inspirational. 

We all at some point in our lives want approval from our parents. We want them to be proud of our accomplishments. But how much of our inner selves are we willing to share to get that? Are we afraid of disappointing? Are we afraid of shocking? Even writing sweet romance, what will my mom think of the sensual scenes? What will she think of me having written them? 

I’m on the fence right now about having mom proof read HER SCOTTISH CEO. But I think I’ll sit down with her and explain the difference between experience and imagination, explain there are some sensual moments and go from there. 

Do you have family or close friends proof read your mss? What was it like the first time? What was their reaction? 

Sunday, September 2, 2012

The Look Challenge

My workshop friend, Mae Claire, tagged me for the LOOK challenge. Thanks, Mae Clair!

I've never heard of a LOOK Challenge, so I followed the links of the others she invited, not only to read their excerpts and meet new people, but to see what it was all about. 
How does the LOOK challenge work?  
  1. Find the first usage of the word ‘look’ in your WIP and paste the surrounding paragraph into your blog.
  2. Tag as many people as you want to take part in the challenge with you.
To see Mae Claire’s paragraph, and read her great blogs, visit:
My LOOK excerpt is from my contemporary romance wip HER SCOTTISH CEO, about an American artist plagued by disappointments who travels to Scotland for a career starting assignment as an illustrator and meets Scottish businessman.  My first paragraph with LOOK is only five words so I felt I had to back up and give a little context. She's just met the Scotsman and he's wearing a kilt:
She continued to observe him as he looked at her artwork. He had a straight nose and an average mouth, which, with his green eyes, came together to make him the most handsome man she'd ever seen.
Up close and personal-wise. 
Concentrate, breathe. Don’t look stunned.

I hope you enjoyed my LOOK challenge! Tag, you're it. I tag the following authors:

A Monday Meal...

I promised the other day to post this recipe that I was going to make for a work pot luck. It was cleaned up, everyone liked it. 

Crock Pot Enchilada Bake

This is my answer to alleviating the frustration of trying to roll corn tortillas for enchiladas. 

Put everything in a crock pot, mix after each addition. Set in high for a couple of hours then on low or warm for a couple more hours until the tortillas are cooked soft.

This is a double recipe I made for a work pot luck. 

2 14oz cans tomato sauce
1/2 c water
1/2 pk Lawry's Enchilada Sauce mix (or more to taste)
1/2 onion, chopped (or more to taste)
1 14oz can red kidney beans, drained
1 14oz sweet corn, drain and reserve 1/2 c liquid
1/2 c liquid from the corn
1 sm can chopped green chills, drained
Juice of 1/2 lime
1 T cilantro, chopped
2 c cheddar cheese, grated reserve 1/2 c for topping
6 corn tortillas cut into 1 to 1-1/2 inch square pieces
Mix all and top with reserved 1/2 c cheddar cheese, grated.

The next time I made this just for the family (half a recipe) I took the left overs and stuffed them in flour tortillas that I had brushed with a little butter (don't tell any one) and fried them in a non stick pan, turned and fried until warmed through. Family really like both versions. 

This is the kind of recipe you can change depending on what you have on hand. It's the corn tortillas that make the dish different from chili or a bean dish.  

Are you Serious? Sunday…

I like the idea of linking my Mac and iPod Touch via the Cloud. I looked into upgrading my Mac so I could do that and saw the upgrade wasn't very expensive, had a lot of new features and, it looked to me, wouldn't be much of a learning curve. 

So I downloaded the system, started at 6pm and it still had barely started when I went to bed at midnight. It wasn't finished when I returned to my computer at 10 am, but was real close. How exciting. A new system, new apps, new features. Only when I restarted, the programs I use the most no longer work with this operating system! 

Seriously?! Give me a break! I'm no techie, I need a clue as to what an upgrade doesn't do, guys. Alright, I should have investigated it further, done some research before the loading the upgrade. 

What doesn't work? Word (a gazillion how-to articles and workshop curriculum as well as some earlier novel manuscripts), AppleWorks (same as above but older, tho most have been transferred to… Word), CS2 (including: photoshop, my novel covers and web graphics). 

Upgrades are like playing leap frog, you upgrade one thing, then you have to leap to upgrade the next item. First your system is getting old, so you upgrade it. Then your apps are too old to work on the system so you have to up grade them. And it goes on and on. 

Okay, it's Sunday. A time to reflect on Gratitude. I'm grateful for the computer in the first place. Without it I would not be a novelist. The computer and word processing programs are tools that make it possible for me to express myself in the world of fiction. A way to get those stories that run through my head down on "paper". 

I'm grateful for my day job even if I spend almost every minute there wishing I was home working on my next novel. 

I'm grateful for my friends and, especially this week, reconnecting with a former workmate who was looking for a writing buddy. Yea, there's someone else in this small town who knows what I'm talking about, understands the drive, appreciates the aloneness a novel writer can experience. And who loves kittens as much as I do. Hi Jenn, Great to reconnect with you!