Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Future Wishes

I recently listened to a conversation between two older women about how much they dislike one of their "friends".  I asked why, if they found her to be such a drain, they still socialized with her.

Their answer was an excuse.

At least I thought it was.

I sincerely hope that when I'm seventy-five I won't be putting up with that kind of bullshit anymore. I've made an effort to cut down on that kind of thing, but I still have a lot to do.

Which got me to thinking about what other things I wish for my future self. Here a couple I came up with.

1) That I'll actually believe I sort of know what I'm doing when it comes to writing a book

2) That I'll have trained myself to stop saying, "I'm sorry" right after I say "no" -- I'm working on it.

3) That I'll be the person my dog thinks I am.  ;-)

Tell me Killer Friends: What are YOUR future wishes?

Monday, April 27, 2015

I Did This Thing Yesterday That I Never Do!

I did this thing yesterday that I never do. First let me start off by saying it's rainy here. This means yesterday was the perfect day to visit the bookstore. So off I went because I had books to buy (and came home with a lovely tote bag as well - why can't the bookstore just sell books instead of tempting us with all these miscellaneous items?). Anyways, I'm taking a break from my ereader. Every once in a while I do that. Don't get me wrong I love my KOBO, but sometimes a gal needs to shake things up.

Also, I like to read our book club picks in print. It's easier to tell where you are in the story with a paperback and depending how much I love or don't love the book I can tell how much more awesomeness is left, or how much skimming will be involved to get to the end. The whole skimming business can be our little secret.  If I was the organized sort (we know the list of picks well in advance) I'd order it from the library. I don't mind spending rainy days there either. But sadly I'm not that organized. Yet.

Our next book club pick takes place in Afghanistan and tells the tale of two women.

Crisscrossing in time, The Pearl the Broke Its Shell interweaves the tales of these two women separated by a century who share similar destinies. But what will happen once Rahima is of marriageable age? Will Shekiba always live as a man? And if Rahima cannot adapt to life as a bride, how will she survive?

Sounds like a wonderful book and is probably super inspiring, but that last word is a great big RED FLAG for me. Survives? With these kinds of books you have to take that last word seriously. Which brings me to the thing I don't make a habit of doing - I stood there in the middle of the bookstore and read the last page to see if she does in fact survive. I felt like I had a big spotlight on me as I did the unthinkable. 

Psst - check that one out! Yep, she's doing it. Right in the. Middle. Of. The. Store.

But I'm just not in the mood to read a book that is going to depress the hell out of me. I read a book once - shudders - in which every single person but one died. It's spring I want to be happy. Well, technically I strive to be happy all year round! But you know what I mean...

I won't tell you whether I bought it or not because, hello, that would be a major spoiler. 

You don't have this problem when you read romance novels, which is why they will have my undying devotion to the end of time. You are never forced to do something as unscrupulous as read the last page to ensure the main characters keep on living. Secondary characters however... 

So, what books are in your reading lineup for this month?

Friday, April 24, 2015

Spring in the Ozarks

I spent 10 years living in flat, dusty, scrubby Kansas-lite, so I'm absolutely thrilled to be back among real trees and flowers and rain and SPRING.  Sure, we had Spring back there, but it wasn't nearly as awesome as it had been where I grew up in Michigan.  Here reminds me of there - just a little warmer and with more pronounced terrain.

Plus, there we rented, so our ability to garden was limited.  Here we own and we can do whatever we damn well please.  So Hubs and I made gardens.  This year, we added more plants and made everything more wonderful.  It took a lot of work, but it was worth it. 

Now, I'm not going to show everything because that would take forever, but here are a few highlights of Spring so far:

And the best part is everything is perennial except for the marigolds (gotta have marigolds), and some of those from last year are even starting to come up from the seeds off last year's planting.  Look at those irises!  And I was pretty sure we killed the azaleas when we moved them from their craptastic placement in the shade of the house.  But they came back and they're exploding with flowers this year. 

Ah, Spring in the Ozarks.  :happy sigh:

Has Spring reached your place yet?  Do you garden? 

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

3 things I'm loving at the moment

1) The BBC crime series, BROADCHURCH.

The series 2 finale will air in the U.S. tonight. I've studiously avoided spoilers. (It aired in the UK back in January or something.)

I'm pretty sure I've guessed the trial's outcome, but I can't wait to see how (or IF) they wrap up the Hardy/Claire/Lee storyline.

Side note: I disliked Eve Myles in TORCHWOOD, but think she's fantastic in this.

2) Prescription Swim Goggles

Where have you been all my life? I have terrible, TERRIBLE eyesight, but once I put these on I can see where I'm going. I can see the end of the pool. I can see and recognize faces. It's a miracle!

(I wouldn't drive in them, but they do the job at the pool.)

3) WRECKED by Cynthia Valero

In the interest of disclosure I should admit that she's my critique partner, but I so love what she's done with this story from conception to final execution.

Welcome to STARSTRUCK, a showplace for talent, a playground for love. A new contemporary continuity series by Beth Ciotta, Cynthia Valero, and Elle J Rossi. Three authors. One world. The hot nights continue with Valero's emotional, new-adult novella, Wrecked.

A Secret Crush... 
Talented songwriter, Sunny Burnett, shelves her dream of Nashville when her older sister is killed in a car wreck and helps her mother pick up the pieces of her shattered life. Two years later, her mother's still struggling and Sunny is desperate to help her. Dusting off her guitar, penning a new song, and marshaling her courage, she enters a duet contest, hoping to use the prize money to turn her mother's life around. She'll do anything to win. Even if it means partnering with the last man she should ask--her sister's ex-boyfriend, a gifted singer and Sunny's longtime secret crush.

A Clandestine Choice... 
Curtis Bliss blames himself for Tuesday Burnett's death. And so does her family. Haunted by regret, he forfeits his musical dreams for years, until he's challenged by an unexpected source--his ex's younger sister. Sunny Burnett blows him away by asking for his help and, in turn, offering him a tentative forgiveness. Even more surprising is the burning attraction that ignites and consumes them both.

Can the new lovers make their dreams come true after all? Or will the secrets they keep wreck them forever?

Tell me Killer Friends: What are YOU loving right now?

Monday, April 20, 2015

Talking Writing and Eating Macarons

Good gravy, have you tried these things? These macarons that are everything delicious? I am addicted to the Salted Caramel Macarons they serve at one of our local pastry and coffee bar. If I was going to write a song about my favourites things these would be in there. And they're small, dainty even, so I pretend they have very few calories. Shush. Don't ruin them for me.

Also, I had a Salted Caramel Truffle blizzard last week - OMGOSH. So good. So bad for you. In comparison the calorie count of a macaron equals celery.

My writing group, the Saskatchewan Romance Writers, gathers at this little French pastry place once a month to talk shop. There is no formal agenda, no plan for the evening. Just writers getting together to talk about their own writing, craft, what's happening in the writing world, and books. We talk about our struggles, ask advice, celebrate milestones, and laugh. A lot.

Sometimes we coordinate on events like Authors for Indies which takes place on May 2nd at different bookstores across Canada. Authors are showing their support for independent bookstores by being in attendance, doing readings, and helping sell books.

Some of us are planning a Facebook party for June 1st. Fun, books, and prizes!

That's why we gather there, as well. To talk about writing, craft, share our love of books, and other things. My week is going to involve rewriting, which I love, and book club on Friday. Which means I'll be madly reading too. What are you're plans for the week?

Friday, April 17, 2015

Cleaning Out My Desk

No, not like that.  I haven't had to clean out a desk from a job in almost eleven years.  I meant that I cleaned out my actual desk where I sit to type this post now.  This desk:

You see, we were without internet for two days this week.  The first day went okay.  I got a lot of editing work done, Hubs and I went for a drive, I tidied the house a bit, read a little, watched TV.  The second day we woke up obscenely early, and I sat at my desk silently weeping for my morning routine of checking my mail, doing my Facebook things, checking my book stats, etc.  Then I noticed how freaking dusty the thing was.  Then I looked in the drawer.

OMG, I hadn't organized that one little bitty drawer since well before we moved here two years ago.  I just kept stuffing things in there.  Things I wanted to save, notes I needed for one reason or another.  Knickknacks and bric-a-brac.

I began taking the front stuff out piece by piece and making piles.  Stuff I needed to keepsake, stuff I needed to file, WTF stuff.  I got to the bottom of that part and then made little piles of the detritus I found there - hardware stuff, coinage, paper clips, 'what the heck is that'.

The back part of the drawer was a tad easier.  It was lined with CD-ROMs and diskettes.  I still have a copy of Windows 98 in there.  The software for a printer I gave away years ago sits there, too.  I have software I know damn well won't work on this system that I set aside for giving to the thrift store.  (Hey, maybe someone out there still runs old Windows.  You don't know they don't.)  I also found the CDs of stock images, animated GIFs, fonts, etc. from my old web design days.  Oh lord, they suck so hard compared to the capabilities we have today.  The only thing worth anything now is a CD of fonts I'm keeping.

With that cleaned, I tackled this little metallic holder thingie I have.  More detritus.  But hey, I had like $3 in change in there.

Then I went through my pens and discarded every single one that no longer writes.  Then I did a Disk Cleanup on my computer and ran scandisk.  I was going to defrag, but the computer said I didn't need to, so I wandered off in search of other things to do.  I think it was the floors.

Then I dusted everything thoroughly.  My workspace hasn't been this clean in years.  It's kinda off-putting, if you ask me. 

Oh, the things we do when our routines get cornfuzzled up.  Hubs - he sorted through eleven years worth of digital photos on his hard drive and put them into categories.  I tried doing that, too, but I got bored.  I didn't want to do anything on my computer if I couldn't do my internet stuff.  :harrumph:

What would you do with two days of forced separation from the internet? 

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Harlan County's Bad Girls Win

This post contains spoilers about the JUSTIFIED series finale, so don't read any more if that's going to upset you.

I didn't have much hope for the final season of JUSTIFIED, especially when I realized it was going to center on Ava. Because here's the thing. I don't like Ava. I never have.

While she's always been portrayed as a damsel-in-distress, Ava Crowder was not a good woman.

Ava blew away her husband at the dinner table (who probably deserved it, but it WAS premeditated murder)  beat up the whores working for her, and murdered Delroy Baker (again, deserved, but premeditated) and oh yeah, she shot her fiancee so that she could rob him.

And yet, to my surprise, I enjoyed the final season. Despite being disappointed that Raylan and Boyd didn't have more scenes together as they battled for Ava's allegiance, the writers managed to bring in interesting characters to fill the void. Katherine Hale was almost as delicious as Mags Bennett and Boon was, in my opinion, way scarier than his boss, Markham.

I actually thought the series finale was very predictable, which was a good thing, considering how hard the writers seemed to be working to bring everything full circle since Season Five.  I admired the craftsmanship because there wasn't a single character who did anything out of character.

Art ultimately trusted Raylan.
Raylan ultimately proved himself to be a better man than Boyd. (bar was set pretty low)
Winona is with yet another guy.
Raylan is back in Miami.
Boyd is back in prison, preaching.
Ava has once again gotten what she wants.
Wynn Duffy is the ultimate survivor.

There were a lot of gifts for longtime viewers of the series.

I particularly liked that Loretta got to save Raylan.

Here's a few more I enjoyed:

One last quick draw
Lots of good-byes
Raylan back on Ava's porch
Ice cream
Digging coal

The big winners of the series were, in my opinion, Ava and Loretta, Harlan County's bad girls.

Ava has her son and a new crime free life. (LOVED Raylan calling her on her shit  as she tried to plead her case.)

There isn't much competition left for Loretta and her pot business.

Tell me Killer Friends: Did you watch the finale? Did you like it? Were you surprised none of the major players died? 

Monday, April 13, 2015

Favourite TV Shows!

I watch too much television. It's true. I could be doing many other things like affecting world peace or running for prime minister of Canada. Making soup. But I'm not. I don't watch daytime television for fear of never being able to stop. At some point in the evening the TV is turned on.

Some of my favourites:

The Blacklist - I freaking love this show. And now Tom's back. <insert fist bump>

Raymond "Red" Reddington (James Spader) has been one of the FBI's most wanted fugitives. But he's got a "blacklist" of politicians, mobsters, spies and international terrorists. However, he's willing to help bring them to justice. As far as carrots go, it's huge and the FBI wants the intelligence he has on the names on the list. But there's a caveat. He'll only give it up if he gets to work with Elizabeth "Liz" Keen, a inexperienced, young agent. The chase begins to bring down some of the worst criminals known to man. But as the list shortens and time goes on will Liz, who Reddington seems to have a very personal interest in, start to think too much a criminal.

James Spader is brilliant in his role as Raymond Reddington. I've got a huge, HUGE crush on him. His character is so well written. He's so charismatic and you forget he's the bad guy. Until he does something reprehensible. And then you're like - crap. Right. Bad man. Very bad man.

Chicago PD - I do so love cop dramas and this one is so yummy. Reminds me of one of my all time favs, NYPD Blue.

At the helm of the Chicago police departmetnt's elite Intelligence Unit is Det. Sgt. Hank Voight (Jason Beghe). He loves his city and he's willing do anything to bring criminals to justice, even if it's not quite legal. He has a past and reputation and it's not all good. He's backed up by a handpicked team of diverse (and gorgeous) detectives. And then there's Desk Sergeant Platt (Amy Morton), who is another of my favourite characters on TV. She rules the roost from her desk keeping everyone on their toes and you do not want to piss her off.

Scorpion - You might not know this about me but I have a thing for geniuses. I'm not even kidding. That show Numbers? I didn't understand what Charlie was talking about most of the time and I did not care, I just wanted him to keep talking about formulas, numbers, and math. And I hate math.

Inspired by a real-life genius, this show sees Walter O’Brien and his team of brilliant misfits pit themselves against against complex, high-tech threats of the modern age.  At last, these nerdy masterminds have found the perfect job: a place where they can apply their exceptional brainpower to solve the nation’s crises, while also helping each other learn how to fit in.

Sweet mary, I love this show. So much brain power in one room and they still struggle to get the job the done. I also love the cheesy bits, and there are quite a few! But whatever.

Madam Secretary - I'm not American, so I can't say whether this show runs true to the political process or not. But I enjoy it. Not the least of which is because of Tea Leoni, who plays a strong female lead character but also because of the refreshing lack of 'alpha' male roles. For that alone I pledge my allegience.

In a position of some importance, Elizabeth McCord, the smart and determined Secretary of State, struggles to find her place in a job that both expects her to toe the line and get the job done while doing it in her own unique way.

So, do you find yourself watching too much television? What are your favourite shows?

Friday, April 10, 2015

The Final Rejection

Last September, before I committed myself to self-publishing, I sent one of my manuscripts off to a rather well-known publisher.  If you know me, it was my genie book.  And if you know SF/F, the publisher was Baen. 

I love Baen.  They put out some really awesome books by some of my favorite authors.  I would kill to get into Baen's publishing catalog.

Correction: I would've killed to get into Baen's publishing catalog.

Oh, I still love Baen.  Seeing my book with the Baen logo on the spine would send me into seizures of excitement.  But that wasn't meant to be.  I got a lovely rejection letter from them yesterday. 

Know what?

It didn't hurt.  Not even a little.  In fact, I was glad.  You see, after I sent that letter off, I decided to self-publish.  I went with Dying Embers first partly because Wish in One Hand was otherwise occupied.  Wish in One Hand was the book I thought was my best shot at getting a traditional publisher.  WIOH is the book with actual sequels in the hopper, ready to be edited and then sent off into the world. 

I sent WIOH off to Baen hoping I'd get published.  And then I published Dying Embers.  Not too long into the self-publishing thing, I started thinking about my own publishing catalog.  What comes next?  What will I put out after that?  I set up a schedule in my head. Dying Embers, Accidental Death, Fertile Ground (or Bloodflow), and then - if Baen rejected WIOH in September - I'd published my genie book in December. 

Suddenly, I found myself kinda hoping Baen would reject me.  Yesterday, I got that wish.  (Funny since the wish I finally got was for a book about genies.)  Here's what they said:

"Thank you for your patience as we considered your novel.  While the writing is refreshingly clear and crisp, unfortunately we will not be able to find a place for it in our lineup."

Along with some standard rejection verbiage. 

This morning, a thought occurred to me.  That was my final rejection.  I don't ever have to send another query letter ever.  They did invite me to submit my next book, but I don't see that happening.  I can do this on my own. I want to do this on my own.

And with that thought, I smiled.

So, now that my genie series is unencumbered, I can start thinking about putting them in print.  I can rework the publishing schedule, so instead of WIOH launching in December - with Djinn 2 coming out next spring and Djinn 3 coming out next fall - I can think about starting the lineup this summer.  (Or early Autumn.)  

And with that thought, the whole pressure of getting Fertile Ground ready for publication in August fell away.  Which is good, because that sucker was driving me nuts. 

I'm still smiling this morning.  Actually, I'm smiling a whole lot more now than I ever did when I was in the query machine getting ground into tiny pieces.

Life is good. 

Oh, and speaking of good things, I lowered the price of Dying Embers to $2.99 yesterday - for a limited time.  If you haven't already picked up a copy, go take a look. 

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Sneak Peek!

THE HITWOMAN'S ACT OF CONTRITION is with my editor, but I wanted to share part of an unedited scene today.  

I pushed those thoughts from my head as I moved through the familiar hallways toward my niece’s room.  I had to focus on being positive when I was with her. Aunt Leslie kept spouting stuff about surrounding the child with white light. While I had no idea how t do that, or if it would work, I was doing my best not to expose Katie to any negativity.
            She was making remarkable progress, but still had a long way to go, and I certainly didn’t want to be the one to throw any roadblocks into her path.
            Dipping my chin until it touched my chest I whispered, “Remember. You’ve got to keep quiet if there are any adults present.”
                        A woman walking in the opposite direction crossed the hall to get away from me. Apparently having my head bent and talking to myself made me look rather odd.
“Yes,” the lizard hissed with exasperation, from his hiding spot, nestled between my breasts. “So you’ve said. Three times.”
At the sound of my chest squeaking the woman sped up, eager to put distance between us.           
            As I neared her room, I spotted Delveccio’s new bodyguard standing at the door.
            He wasn’t there to protect Katie, he was there for Delveccio’s grandson.
            I swallowed a groan. Not that I didn’t appreciate the extra security. I’d made enough enemies to know that an extra set of eyes looking out for the little girl I loved couldn’t be a bad thing.
            I nodded at the man. “Morning.”
            He didn’t even glance up from the newspaper crossword puzzle he held. “You know a four letter word for flair?”
            I thought for a second. “No. Sorry.”
            He shrugged. “Me neither.”
            “Elan,” God squeaked.
            The guard flicked his eyes upward.
            “Elan,” I parroted.  After all, while the lizard sucked at his beloved Wheel of Fortune puzzles, he kicked butt when it came to Jeopardy.
            “What?” The guard eyed me suspiciously,
            “Four letter word. Elan.”
            He looked down at his paper, his pen hovering over the grid. “That works. Thanks.”

Monday, April 6, 2015

The Busy Trap

Almost everyone I know is busy. "So busy." "Crazy busy ." "Swamped." "Buried." You know how it is. But sometimes I think it's worse for women. We're teetering on the edge as we juggle full-time work schedules, family obligations, household chores, and the increasing pressure to take on more. That might be an unfair observation, I'm not sure. But to be sure there are health risks that go along with being inescapably, terminally busy, including anxiety, depression, memory disorders, and sleep problems. It's hard enough when things are running smoothly, but then whose life does that. We all have emergencies, unexpected situations, and surprises that crop up.

But how do we achieve the balance between work and play and avoid the traffic jams of life.
My Words of Encouragement dot com
That's why I'm working on saying no and not offering any explanation to go along with it. I'm determined to become more of a list-maker and keeping track of my to-do efforts. I will spend 15 minutes each day deciding what it is I want to accomplish and therefore identify the priorities of the day and cut out time-wasters.

How about you? What do you do to keep a sense of balance in your life?

Friday, April 3, 2015

Hoppy Bunny Day! And a Contest.

Hey there, Killer Friends!

At the risk of being a pain in the buns, I'd like to invite you all to head on over to my work blog - B.E.'s Writerly Space - for a moment and sign up for my newsletter.  Everyone who signs up before Monday morning gets a chance at winning a paperback of my debut release, Dying Embers

Speaking of which, if you're looking for something to read this weekend while you're avoiding relatives, recovering from sugar coma, or trying not to eat one more piece of ham, download my book.  Emma and her need for revenge should take your mind off all that stuff.

Also, speaking of... have a Hoppy Bunny Day, Everyone!

And if you're not inclined to celebrate the bunnies, have an awesome weekend anyway.  :hugs:

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Between you, me, and the lamp post

No, this is not an April Fool's post.  I dislike those posts.

I played Win, Lose or Draw last night for the first time. (I've studiously avoided games like this and Pictionary for as long as I can remember because I can't draw for shit.)

The hardest thing I had to draw was, "Between, you, me and the lamp post."  You don't want to know how long it took my poor team of five other members to guess that one. 

So why did I humiliate myself like that?

Because one of my goals for 2015 is: "Say yes more often".

For the life of me I can't remember what I said yes to besides a second painting class. (I can't draw OR paint.)

In February I said yes to a new project I'll tell you about soon.

In March I said yes to an improvisational acting class and Win, Lose or Draw.

I'm hoping to say yes to a couple of things this month, but I don't want to jinx them by talking about them too early. 

Other goals for the rest of the year include (but are not limited to):

Write and publish three more Hitwoman books

Attend another conference

Write and/or publish three other books

Find another writing group

Develop a new hobby

Take a vacation

Yup, if I meet my goals 2015 will have been a busy, productive, enjoyable year.

Big thanks to my author Donna B. McNicol for posting her goals, which inspired me to post mine. Check out her blog. She's one interesting lady who definitely says yes to a lot of things.  

Tell me Killer Friends: What have you said "yes" to lately? What are your goals for the rest of the year.

Just a reminder: CATNAPPED! is now available!