Monday, May 31, 2010

Purchasing for My Muse

When Borders sends me a 40% off coupon, I find it nearly impossible to resist. Forty percent off is nearly as good as used-book prices, and I can get something brand new. Thus, when Cody and I headed for Borders today with our 40% off coupons in hand, I expected to pick up a new fiction novel. Maybe Lora Leigh's new Lion's Heat or Jim Butcher's third Dresden novel, Grave Peril, or maybe Warriors edited by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois with short stories by Diana Gabaldon and Carrie Vaughn.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

The Substance of Hope

For the past six months, I've been plagued with one main question in my writing life: Is my first Madison story, the one I'm shopping around to agents, enough of a story? Is there enough meat, enough action, enough twists in plot, enough arc in character to satisfy a reader? Is it the story I want to launch my career with? Does it have enough energy to make readers crave the next one?

Heavy questions, especially whenever a rejection comes in and the doubts resurface. So for these last six months, while I ponder the depth and breadth of Conventional Demon, I've been thinking of ways to make it better. One of the best plans I've come up with is to weave what I wrote for book 2 into book 1.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Critiquing Janet Evanovich's Website

In continuing with my quest to build a better website, I decided to hop over to Janet Evanovich's site. (Okay, I was actually looking to see when her next Stephanie Plum novel will be released—June 22—but once I was on the site, I thought it'd make a great one to critique.)

If you've been a fan of Evanovich's for a while, you probably went by her site before it got its recent major overhaul. Gone are the eye-flinching teal pages and difficult navigation menus. Now, you'll find a professional site with gradated color, a clear tab system, and an interactive bar above the fold that changes to correspond with each tab. Her site used to be my least favorite author site, and now I think it's one of the best-designed ones I've seen.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Everyone Has a Little Insane in Them

For the most part, I'm a very rational, rather calm person. I don't give in to many forms of paranoia. I don't worry about 2012 (on a daily basis, at least) and I don't worry over the fate of my IRA or think overmuch about crime (despite the fact that I have had my car stolen before). In fact, when I think about it, I don't have any rational phobias that I can think of. I do, however, have several completely obscure and irrational paranoias.

The most bizarre came about slowly, building over the last several years, ever since I saw my first glimpse of Google Earth. There, before my eyes, was proof that there are incredibly powerful telescopic cameras in space that can take pictures of something as small as my toenail. It wasn't movie magic. It wasn't some trick of photoshop.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Cookie-cutter Tastes

While on our honeymoon, my husband and I were treated to cable packages that included more than just your basic home-town channels. While I know that many people live their daily lives with upwards of two hundred or three hundred channels from which to pick, we have thirteen, and two of those are Spanish stations (I speak Spanish as well as a toddler, my husband not at all), and one is a college station. It was a novelty to have so many channels at our fingertips.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Number One Novels Starts a Bookstore

There's nothing like a really good vacation to give you energy when you get back—and my honeymoon was fabulous. Sadly, today was the first day in the last ten that I didn't get to spend with my husband. Instead, I was happily envloped by the online world of everything books and book related.

I wasn't looking to make NON better, but I ended up doing it anyway: I created a Number One Novels Amazon bookstore!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

It's Honeymoon Time!

I'm leaving tomorrow for my honeymoon! I'm super excited—for a week-long vacation (the first in the ten years Cody and I have been together that we've taken and gone away somewhere, ever), to be spending a week of uninterrupted time with Cody, and to be (finally) on our honeymoon! After ten years of dating, and waiting another month after our wedding, it feels like this honeymoon has been a long time coming.

I hope to have a few fun stories and a refreshed outlook on life (and writing) when I return next week. Farewell!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Ira Glass, My Hero

I've discovered Ira Glass and This American Life only this year, and I'm a huge fan of the show. Imagine my surprise when today, on Freakonomics, I found a few web clips of Ira talking to me.

Okay, he's not technically talking to me, Rebecca Chastain, but he could be. He's actually talking to people who want to create podcasts or get into TV or radio. Yet, everything he says could have been written for writers, especially writers just getting into the business or writers yet to be published.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Critiquing Author Websites: Stephanie Laurens Wows Me

I've been thinking about that atrociously long to-do list I posted about yesterday and wondering what more I can do each day to keep plugging away at checking items off. My first idea was to lock myself in my office with nothing but my computer chair and computer for the next year. Fortunately, my rational mind (and stomach and bladder) prevailed. I know that after my writing session and work for the day, I often don't have a lot of creative juice or willpower left to sit in this chair an hour longer working on Word docs. Which left either plotting the future story (a good thing, but something I think that needs my subconscious to ponder a little longer), coming up with a valid, marketable reason to do the edits on Aria (but I've already cried once today, so I'm not sure I'm up for that), or working on the website. Clearly, the website won.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Sorting the To-Do List

Entering the contest yesterday with Madison reminded me of the thousand and one things that are on my to-do list for writing. There's enough there to fill every hour of every day for the next five years, and I want to finish it all before December. To give you a peek, here's the current list:

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

"Dear Lucky Agent" Contest

It's been about five months since I've shopped Madison around, and I've made some improvements to the beginning (mainly chopping about ten pages off the front and starting the story where it should start...with the story, not the backstory). I've been hard at work on the next novel, but Chuck Sambuchino at Guide to Literary Agents got me thinking about Madison last night. For the next two weeks, he's hosting a "Dear Lucky Agent" contest on his blog for fantasy and science fiction novels, and I've decided to enter. Wish me luck!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Romantic Tastes

I've come to realize that I have very picky tastes when it comes to romance novels. When I first started reading romance novels, I was seventeen and feeling grossly in need of catching up. I read every romance novel I could get my hands on, starting with Jude Deveraux and Judith McNaught, then Amanda Quick and Catherine Coulter. I loved the period romances, especially if they involved dukes and duchesses and the requisite reformed rakes (or rakes in the process of being reformed). Eventually, I tried authors like Elizabeth Lowell and Jayne Anne Krentz, who introduced me to the joys of present-day romances, leading to another splurge of reading. Much more recently I found Katie MacAlister and Jayne Castle, who bridged the gap between my first love

Thursday, May 6, 2010

A Mission Statement

The very smart dames over at Deadline Dames have brought up a good point: some of the best-working companies in the world have very well defined mission statements, which they use to guide their business decisions and stay true to the goals of the company. It works very well for companies, simplifies choices, and maintains forward momentum in the right direction. Swap the word "companies" with "people" or "authors" and the statement still works. I've taken up the dame's challenge to write my own short mission statement.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Far Away Settings

I am financially happy with where I am at. I can afford to buy books, to have Netflix, to have a car, and a to rent an apartment (though maybe I need to rethink this priority list). I don't want for anything essential, and I have a few things that are positively extravagant (I'm talking to you, Contessa the Roomba). I don't quite have the funds I would like when it comes to novel research, though. Specifically, I'm talking research for settings.

Monday, May 3, 2010

A Bit of Feminism Sneaks Up on Me

I have just finished watching, of all things, Private Benjamin. Yep, the '80s Goldie Hawn movie. It was a Netflix recommends and I had the evening open and nothing else to do, so I figured I'd give it a go.

The woman's hero's journey sure has come a long way! I often forget the work of the women who came before me, the women who brought equality in the workplace (almost) and who changed the way the country thought about women, who changed a woman's role from being something tied to someone else (a wife, a mother, a daughter) to just being a person in their own right.