Friday, December 31, 2010

Well, I can't set up an e-book. DRAT!

So I got a call from marketing this week. They never used to call. I have been published since 2001, that's a long time. In the last 12 months I have gotten about 4 calls asking if I want to be on some joint advertising with other authors.

I sell advertising for a living right now, so I listen. I have had about 3 different reps call. The last one had a lot of noise in the background; I guess it was a call center. She was nice and when I said I wanted to set up my novel for the Kindle platform I was transferred. Then I was put on hold and then, I was told that books published prior to 2008 aren't set up for e-pub.

Now my novel is still available as a print on demand, but I didn't argue with her about why it wasn't possible. I have learned that the call centers don't have enough knowledge of the process to educate me.

I will just wait until I finish my current novel and see how I might get both up. I am very pleased to report that I got about 8 pages added this week. I was so in the zone a few nights ago and everything flowed. I do hope this is the beginning of a trend!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Kindled by their love!

I forgot to mention my best Christmas present! Blair, Marquel and Bill got me a Kindle e-reader loaded with the Catholic Bible, The Help and To Kill A Mockingbird (not the book but an analysis, as they said the book wasn't available) to start.

I marvel at how thin and light weight it is. I am really looking forward to spending time in Bible study with my Kindle and reading more. I also wanted to have a Kindle before I sign up to have my novel "Marquel" available on e-book platforms.

In a few weeks I will head to NYC for a writer's conference. I hope learn more about the state of the book publishing. I was watching CBS's Sunday Morning program about an award-winning book jacket artist who felt he had about 5 to 10 more years before the reading public moved to more electronic readers.

Isn't that really the fun of book shopping? Reviewing the cover and then flipping the book over to read the synopsis. And then I thought about my own cover art and how well it communicates the story in a simple picture. I was told an artist in Shanghai had developed the cover and I could use it or supply my own. A graphic artist friend had also worked up a cover for me and I had paid her for the work, but I was mesmerized by how well this artist a world away had captured my novel's essence. I asked my publisher for the artist's name and email, as I wanted to thank him or her, but it was never supplied.

Anyway, I realize that promotion and sales are the true purpose of what might have been considered a dust jacket's protective function, but a great cover can also "kindle" emotion and enhance the story.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Now the hard work begins!

We had a wonderful Christmas with our girls and son-in-law. We did the rounds of family visits from the 24th to the 26th and it's such a blessings to have most of our parents here to share in the memories.

This holiday we enjoyed smaller groups and more quality time with everyone. It was different from prior celebrations where "the more the merrier" was the norm. In a way, it was comforting to know our circle of family and friends have lots of people in their lives.

As we finish 2010 it is time to reflect on what we want to accomplish in the coming year and count our blessings for the past 12 months. I can say that my diagnosis of Meniere's Disease this summer was more of a blessing that a problem. While I had a severe attack that was scary at first, I have excellent doctors who have helped me with a diet and medication that have made the disorder tolerable.

Eating a 1500 mg low sodium diet, taking an anti-viral medication daily and learning how to self-balance the crystals in my ears when dizziness occurs is far easier to deal with than many other illnesses. Yes, the ringing in my ears is on-going (which I have lived since about third-grade) but I am so grateful my overall health is in good order.

This realization made me prioritize what's important and what makes me happy. Of course my husband and children are my heart, as are our family, but I had neglected writing as I developed my sales career. Sales gave me a chance to enjoy copywriting, but now I will devote more evenings to writing the second book that I dedicate to our youngest daughter, Blair. The first novel is named after her sister, Marquel. Both novels are works that honor our daughters' names but they are not about the girls. Interestingly each is an extension of me; each with a life of their own.

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Gray Swan

Friday last week hubby and I managed to see a late showing of the "Black Swan." Natalie Portman was amazing! And I am not generous with praise; her metamorphosis to the Black Swan provoked me.

Darren Aronofsky's visual story-telling made me ponder the white and black swan in us all. The ballet director kept telling Portman's character that it was easy to be a white swan, but more difficult to become the black swan. To achieve perfection and become the black swan required her to release her inhibitions and let go. Yet the black swan also represented a dark side and we don't consider perfection to be dark, most of us strive to be better which we believe to be light. So is it really more difficult to go to the darker side of ourselves or maintain the facade of the white swan?

The human mind is a complex machine that spins these white and dark issues into comfortable grays that allow us to live. Brilliance requires this balance for sustainability and Portman herself chose to live in the shadows of her character to bring us this on screen experience. To the talented artists who straddle white and black, I pray that you can enjoy the subtle grays that provide rest and joy after a day's labor. You bring us pleasure through your gifts and in return, know you are loved by your audience though we're often in the dark.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Remembering Ruby

Okay, I haven't written or blogged in many days. I did write the family holiday newsletter and have mailed it to our family and friends (which at last count was 120). I continue to expand our communication to the friends of our children and the family members on my husband's side and my family.

My mother-in-law told me once that I was the matriarch of the family. So I looked it up on just for the heck of it. We all know basic definitions, but to really grasp the meaning, I love to look things up.

ma·tri·arch –noun
1. the female head of a family or tribal line.
2. a woman who is the founder or dominant member of a community or group.
3. a venerable old woman.

I don't why but when I read # 3 I thought it said vunerable. So then I looked up:

ven·er·a·ble –adjective
1. commanding respect because of great age or impressive dignity; worthy of veneration or reverence, as because of high office or noble character: a venerable member of Congress.
2. a title for someone proclaimed by the Roman Catholic Church to have attained the first degree of sanctity or of an Anglican archdeacon.
3. (of places, buildings, etc.) hallowed by religious, historic, or other lofty associations: the venerable halls of the abbey.
4. impressive or interesting because of age, antique appearance, etc.: a venerable oak tree.
5. extremely old or obsolete; ancient: a venerable automobile.

Wow Ruby, I feel really great to have a likeness to #2, but #4 and 5...

So it made me think about my mother-in-law, who passed away in February 16, 2001. Ruby loved people very deeply, almost a fault. It's hard to explain, but she had a challenging youth that set the stage for her life. She lived in her own world much of the time and managed her household as best she could. Her sons and grandchildren were her life. She was a very loving soul who gave from her heart. Her heart was big and she was always weighing out what was fair for all and she dearly loved the holidays. And could she shop!

We would take the kids and do lunch and hit as many mall stores as possible. Ruby also ordered from catalogues and my dear father-in-law was her wrap-master. He was delegated to do most of the gift wrapping as she did the majority of shopping. They were a team and like many couples who live long enough to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary, they had their ups and downs but they were solid in their commitment to one another.

I was blessed to spend many hours with Ruby during the days her sons and my father-in-law would hunt. She shared her childhood remembrances, the joy and pain. I loved her as I do my own my mother.

The morning she passed away my father-in-law had called an ambulance as she wasn't breathing. They worked on her both at the house and on the way to the emergency room. My husband went to pick up his father and I headed to the ER. I had hoped to speak with her and when I got to the waiting room, the doctor came out to tell me she had passed away. I asked to see Ruby one last time. They agreed, but apologized that she was still hooked up to all the equipment they had used to attempt to revive her. I was glad her sons and husband were spared. It was as though she had passed the torch to me and I thank God I had the chance to pray over her and touch her hand one last time as she made her way to heaven.

Merry Christmas Ruby, I am going shopping today and I know you will be with me in spirit. I miss you. We all do.
Love, Emily

Friday, December 10, 2010

Deadline day

So today I was supposed to take the day off and I just managed to sleep in and work because a deadline required me to answer emails.

I managed to write our family Christmas letter and pick up some plush fleece to use for a dress-up costume I have to make for our bartender-actress older-daughter. She and her fellow wait staff dress for seasonal holidays and I always get word just hours before she has to wear it, that I am to sew it. My skills are very limited, but being a Project Runway junkie, I accept the challenge as I know Tim Gunn would encourage me to "make it work." And since we are headed to her show tonight along with 10 of hubby's teacher friends, I decide to drop off the materials for her review.

Now my husband and I have been talking all week about getting to the French restaurant (where his co-workers have reservations) in time for the "early bird menu." We aren't senior citizens, but we are talking teacher salaries, so we are on a mission.

Along the way, my husband decides we need cash. I remind him we have a credit card for dinner, our ticket's are comp'ed for this one performance and the $20 dollars we have between us is enough for a glass of wine at intermission.

"NO!" He says, we need cash "in case." So we stop at one ATM and its not working. We drive 5 more miles and we come to an ATM that has a line of people waiting and a drive-thru that is still open, but we drive around the building back to the ATM. The line at the ATM is down to a woman getting money, one woman behind her and soon my husband. I glance down to look at a picture that our youngest sends my cellphone and then back to hubby and he's gone! What the...

A line is forming again and much, much longer. Our oldest sends a text that she is resting before her performance and just leave the fabric inside her house. Now I am wondering what my husband is doing and where he is?

Next thing I know he is walking to the car with these forms and proudly exclaims he went inside the bank, AND signed up for a SAVINGS ACCOUNT! I am wondering if he remembered the cash? And he proudly explains the great percentage and such ... blah, blah.

So we drop off the fabric and now we are racing to dinner and he groans, "we have to be there at 6:30, remember!" Like my quick stop would cost us a full price meal to which I remind him that I am not the one who decided to open a last minute SAVINGS ACCOUNT!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Blackberry, A Writer's Friend

Well the prior blog post was written in Outlook on a note. I couldn't cut and paste it into blogspot for some reason, but at least I could retype it easily. I am able to copy and past chapters I write on the Blackberry into Word, which is a major convenience! So lunch or downtime can be a writing opportunity.

We went Wednesday night to see "The Nutcracker." We had never seen it before and our friend's daughter was in this performance. I always get teary-eyed watching young people perform; they are so full of life and immersed in the moment.

The show concluded after 9 pm and I needed to still renew a client, so my husband drove me to the beach restaurant client at 11 pm where we both grabbed a bite and I took care of the ad copy before we left. We got home close to midnight and I was tired enough to sleep for a change.

Tonight we have my office Christmas dinner to attend. I spent the day working on ads and proofs. I am taking Friday off, so I am hoping to write some then.

Our youngest daughter informed us that she got invited to a major celebrity/producer's Christmas party in LA. She is so well connected that it just amazes us all. God has big plans for her! It is our prayer that both of our girls will find fulfillment in their work and that their relationships blossom in support and love.

Now I know why I stopped writing!

Monday evening I signed off and started writing. I looked at the clock a few minutes later and it was 3:45 am! Crap!

A few minutes became several hours. I only wish I had 20 pages to show for it. I can't believe the time warp. I began rewriting and adding the point of view from my lead character and while I did add to the length of the novel a bit, it wasn't much.

Then off to bed, I had to be at an early client renewal a few hours later. I almost overslept. My husband left the heat on and that's what woke me up. I was curled up under flannel sheets and started to sweat. Thank goodness!

We are wimps in Florida, the slightest cold weather and we become Nanook of the North. I felt dizzy from the lack of sleep and the heat! At first I thought it was another Meniere's attack, which was how I spent my summer... coping with dizziness and the loudest ringing I have ever experienced in my ears. I am much better now.

So I made it to my meeting 15 minutes late, which was ok, he (client) was busy opening his store, so I didn't delay him.

Then I checked my Blackberry and noticed an email to stopby another prospect's business to write an internet order. From there I zigzagged around mid-Pinellas County to deliver more cookies and put out fires where needed.

Got home by 5 pm and our daughter and son-in-law ate chili with us and then we went to see a friend's dress rehearsal. The show opened the next night.

Monday, December 6, 2010

I got the coolest idea!

I did write a little last night, but I kept falling asleep. I actually have to write 2 proposals for advertising prospects, but I am going to get my blog post and my chapter finished first.

I am getting a late start. I had appts with clients til about 6 pm and then had to prepare stuff for my home office helper to do and then we Skyped with the youngest who is now in California. That was a pleasant surprise. We just love catching up. She has so many friends since working on "The Help" and we're looking forward to hearing what she'll do next. She found a church she likes this weekend and went to the movies and a game night with friends.

Both of our daughter's were sick in the last few days. East Coast oldest got food poisoning and West Coast youngest a cold.They are both smart about taking good care of themselves, thank God. I would be a wreck if they weren't.

I just got done cleaning the guest bathroom, changing the beds and making chili for tomorrow's dinner; our oldest and her husband might stay with us overnight. We are all going to the opening of a friend's play in Clearwater and we all work the next day, so its easier for them to stay here.

Anyway, when I was driving home from my last appointment I got the idea for a chapter revision. I am so glad I didn't write much over the weekend. Everything always works out and God's got my back. I had written my most recent chapter showing how one character is being attacked when it hit me, what if I showed how the main character witnesses it and she is the only one that sees it.

Well, I am going to sign off. I can't wait to see how this plays out. Remember the characters tell me the story, so I'm excited to see what's going to happen.

Good night.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Where did the weekend go?

I am not making excuses, I didn't write. But I honestly had little to no time.
After I blogged on Saturday I gathered up my coupons and shopping list and managed to hit 3 stores in a matter of a few hours.
I then stopped at the consignment shop to pick up unsold items and headed home to wrap all before packing up the dogs and the hubby to go to our daughter's for the evening. We decided to stay down there since I need to run my mother to the grocery the next morning and they live only blocks away. Sunday is usually Nana (what our kids call my mom) time. We do lunch, groceries, her trash, recycling, mop, pickup the yard as needed and deal with the cat litter and such.
Anyway, once I had gifts wrapped and sorted by destination we got on our way and dropped the dogs off with our son-in-law before meeting friends for dinner and then we saw our daughter in the play again and afterward let the dogs out before meeting the rest of the cast at a local casual dining spot for appetizers and drinks. This is the usual after show tradition.
So we got home close to 1 am and I had to watch a few minutes of "Celebrity Ghost Stories" before getting my shower. Everyone else went to bed and I finally got to sleep about 2 :30 am.
The next morning I was up around 8 am and picked up Nana and had breakfast with family before the grocery run (that always takes an hour and 1/2 to shop and unload). I shop too, so I have to bring coolers or leave quickly. Then I went back to our daughter's got hubby and dogs and headed home. I then unpacked our groceries and baked for 2 hours before going to the bridal shower. So I got back home at 7 pm and baked till 11 pm. Now I am caught up with all my holiday cookies for clients and I can write for a few minutes.
I will sign off and do it now.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

It's Saturday, you'd think I'd have time to write

Well, I am very behind in my daily writing goals. I write in the evenings after I have completed all my marketing work, but it is holiday season and I have to run out and pick up gifts for a bridal shower tomorrow, the Giving Tree selections I made and prepare to meet friends for dinner and see our oldest daughter in "The Cactus Flower." We go to the majority of the shows she is in with family and friends. We never tire of the performances and she is really developing her gifts over the 3 productions this year. REALLY! I am not just being a mom. I am very much the critic. I used to write theatre reviews for Clearwater Sun Newspapers and our beach weekly Sun Community News. Not that anyone would agree with a local reviewer, but I enjoy good entertainment.

I have 5 hours to get my errands done. I also need to write our family Christmas letter today and starting printing and mailing them next week, so I will get dressed, but first have coffee and then shop, come home and write a little before the rest of the activities, wrap some packages, OH! I have to get our holiday decorations down tomorrow evening, and do some marketing research for some clients Sunday night. Teacher hubby has already started the dishes, he has to grade papers this weekend and do his lesson plans, so I don't know how much house cleaning we'll do, but first things first. I have to shop! Can't go to a shower empty-handed and I need get the "wish list" gifts for some of our outreach ministry's families. This is fun!

Gotta run.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

I wrote last night

It's a cold night in Tampa Bay and I decided to put on my new "walking/exercise sneakers" (the ones that have the rocking shape that makes you tone up) and stroll the neighborhood. It was very therapeutic to burn some calories and enjoy the Christmas light displays. I needed that time to just reflect and forget about coupons and ad sales. I am a writer afterall and I need to keep focused on the big picture.

I managed to write and fall asleep at the keyboard last night. About 11:30 or so I began to review my prior entry. I write in a final draft mode. I am sure editors would say there is no such thing, but it's what I do. I write and rework and reread and rewrite a chapter at a time. I am not one for long chapters, so it's fairly easy.

My style of writing is more cinematic -- enough scenery to get the lay of the land and plenty of dialogue. I like stories to progress, I don't care for a visual of all four walls if I know I am in a cinnamon-vanilla scented candlelit den with rustic Early American furnishings. Our imaginations are rich enough to see what else is in the room. Cinematic in a sense that I write and plot in a format that could be shot in the same sequences and you'd see the story unfold on the screen or the page and hopefully stay interested. Well, at least I think so and most of the people who have read my first novel said they couldn't put it down. They read it in a day or over a weekend. So I think I do have a "style".

I haven't read enough about how other authors write, but I let my characters tell me the story. I am aware of where the story is going, but I am constantly amazed to see what unveils on the page. While waiting for a prospect to meet me tonight, he was running late, I opened a tool on my blackberry and wrote a few paragraphs. I am 67 pages into the novel so far.

Tomorrow we go to our oldest daughter's first starring role in a local play. I am praying she has a stellar performance and enjoys herself. She has been in a supporting and featured role in two other shows and had a favorable mention in a local newspaper. We are so excited for her. Our youngest heads back to LA on Friday morning to look for work. She rents a mother-in-law cottage in the city and hasn't been back since July (when she got her first feature film job). Thankfully she'll come back in a few weeks for Christmas, then we'll be backing to weekly Skyping once she is in LA or wherever she finds a show. How I do appreciate technology!