Thursday, July 31, 2008

...And You Thought The Line for Nora was Long

This photo was from the literacy signing. You can tell from the panicked look on my face how I feel about crowds. It got worse this afternoon. I nearly bolted. I was in the main lobby waiting for lunch and it was filled in by inch with romance writers. My stomach clenched and I clung to a column for dear life. Agent Steven Axelrod was standing across from me in deep conversation with someone Very Important I'm sure. He was wearing a seersucker suit. So my focus turned to seersucker, then I thought about who wore seersucker. Of course that was Matlock. But Steven Axelrod doesn't look anything like Matlock. My husband wants a seersucker suit but I won't let him get one because he would look like Matlock. Anyway, by the time that train of thought ended, it was time to go down for lunch. While waiting to go in, I did nearly knock down a sign. Only one person saw me. Things were better inside. They already had the salads on the tables and they were pretty good. Lunch was rubber chicken with sauce and the only coffee available at our table was decaf *shudder*. I chatted with two other ladies and then it was time for Victoria Alexander to speak. She was great, I really enjoyed her speech. She's very funny.

After lunch it was time for workshops. I put my stuff down and decided to head to the bathroom. OMG, the line for the bathroom was longer than anything from the literacy signing. I decided to hold it.

The first workshop I went to was a dialogue one presented by historical author Elizabeth Hoyt.
It was pretty good and she is funny and very knowledgeable. My only problem was the people who harped on the same question over and over and over again. It made her rush through the rest of the program.

Then it was on to the next workshop. And there was a line for the bathroom. I was going to go to a program presented by Cherry Adair about writing a blockbuster or something like that. But the room was filled to capacity and I didn't want to get stuck in the crush. I went to another workshop mainly because they still had seats. It was put on by a group of authors who do the Debutante Ball group blog. Wow, it was pretty good and made me start thinking about things. They discussed the trouble with promotion and how they use their "grog" to promote each other. Group blogs are great but they need organization to be successful and I really liked their approach to managing their web. They seemed very focus on what they were doing.

There weren't any workshops after that I was interested in so I headed back to my hotel to my unoccupied bathroom. Tomorrow is going to be a long day. I've got some leftover chocolate mouse torte which I need to finish from dinner (we went to a nice Italian place called Kuleto's) then its off to bed for an early morning.

Quick Update

I've got a break in between the opening session and lunch. I should be networking, but as gregarious as I am online, I'm quite introverted in public.

The opening session was okay. The speaker was good, I found her entertaining but not particularly motivational. I did meet a fellow writer from SoCal and we chatted a bit after the meeting. I forced one of my business cards on her.

Lunch is at 12:15 so I had a couple of hours to kill. Did a little window shopping but decided to head back to the hotel and check my email. My husband and son went off to Alcatraz this morning so I'm by myself. Hence, the reason I'm back at the hotel. I enjoy my solitude.

One of my big problems is that I'm a suburbanite. Being out amongst humanity makes me nervous. Plus they smell. I've also discovered cable cars run late at night. I can hear them right outside my window. It was so loud during the night that when it finally got quiet, it woke me up.

Workshops start later this afternoon. I'm not sure how long I'm going to last. I'm tired. Two days of driving wore me out. And trying to navigate with your husband driving is even more exhausting, am I right?

I was going to post pictures then remembered hubby took the camera. I do have my camera phone so I'll see what I can do this afternoon.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

First Night in SFO

I've got a few pictures but frankly, I'm too tired to hunt down my stick adapter and load them up. Maybe tomorrow. Hope so.

Okay, so I'm in my hotel in S.F. It is probably the loudest location ever. The cable car runs right outside my room (I'm staying at the Villa Florence) which has a great location, so its probably worth it. We pulled in around five, unpacked and headed to the big literacy event. Oh, and I registered. My bag had a several books in it. Way cool.

Oh my! The number of people was beyond belief. Let me re-phrase that, the number of women was beyond belief. Several of them very attractive, according to my husband. I think he might have been trying to hit on Nora Roberts, he seemed awfully interested when I pointed her out. She could by him more cars, I'm sure. I met Kelly and Michelle. That was fun. I met a few authors and reaquainted with some others. These poor girls were so excited to see la Nora so I offered to take a picture of them by the RWA sign. Freakin' shots were all blurry. They didn't care, they were too excited.

Tomorrow will be the real challenge. I have to walk by an DSW Shoe(hubby refers to it as hell) and a Sephora along with the mall. Down the street is Macy's. It's going to be difficult walking to conference without getting distracted.

Well, its almost 11 p.m. and I need to take a shower. Tomorrow should be full of more news, if I can survive the siren song of the shops.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

A Whole Lot Of Shakin' Going On

So I'm packing for conference when it hits. The ground starts to shake then my house rolls back an forth as if on roller skates. All I can think is "please don't be centered near San Francisco." However, having been through an earthquake or two, I realized by the length of the quake it was pretty nearby (about 10 miles). No damage. Didn't lose power, phones or (thank heavens) Internet. The true earthquake hit an hour later when I went upstairs to put laundry away and exploded at the mess my kids had made upstairs. I took away all game consoles and computers. Barbies are gone too. Course they won't be home the rest of the week, but I think everything will remain gone for awhile.

Haven't finished packing. Realized my hubby was out of socks. Searched the laundry and couldn't find any. Someone must be eating them. Had to run down to Target and pick up some more. Now I'm waiting for them to dry.

We are supposed to be leaving in an hour, I'm guessing it will be more like two. My laptop is already packed up so I'm using another machine. Well, I will be back online tomorrow night. My cell phone has email, so I can still check that out.

Monday, July 28, 2008

The San Francisco Post: Part II

I pondered back and forth about business cards. I couldn't decide if I really needed them or not. But since I was at Wal Mart anyway, I picked up some printable cards and came up with this little number. A little gaudy, I suppose, but I had fun. My email and phone number are on the back. I figure I'll print up 20 or so, force them on my friends. They make nice bookmarks.

One thing is bothering me. Usually we have some wild and obnoxious RWA controversy going right before conference. The blogs and the boards light up with flaming posts full of hurtful words and virtual hair pulling. Sometimes they happen during conference (remember when they did video montage and everyone got upset?). Someone says something insensitive about another genre or RWA hints at a new policy which gets people up in arms, etc. But this year I can only really think of one. This year, they are not supplying the handouts. We are supposed to print them ourselves. This is supposedly in an attempt to be more green. Others feel like it is cost-cutting move on RWA's part. Could be both. The handouts come out to be 279 pages. Multiply that by a couple of thousand people and you've got well over half a million pieces of paper. I didn't care one way or the other. Actually, I probably lean on the print on demand side. I went through the workshops and checked off the ones I definitely wasn't going to then printed those I knew I was going to or thought there might be a chance I'd go to. I didn't count the pages, but it came out far below 200 pieces of paper. I'm going to punch them and stick them in a binder with a matching little notebook for notes (or doodles, I'm not a note taker, I'm a doodler). It didn't take me all that long, I was cleaning my floor in between printings, but it was a bit inconvenient.

But what is worrying attendees is the cost cutting. Conference is becoming less bang for your buck. There is no Saturday luncheon, the one day where a provided lunch would be welcome considering the schedule for the day. However, they are doing the RITA/GH thing that night, so maybe that takes the place. No matter how you look at it, conference is expensive. Perhaps if it were at a different time of the year and at less rockin' cities, it would likely be cheaper. But attendance would drop. Or maybe not. San Francisco is expensive and with the state of the economy, its going to hurt even more. I suppose you have to consider why you are going and weigh it against the price. Part of the reason I'm going is because it is in San Francisco. So it is worth it to me.

I haven't started packing yet. Lucky me, I'm packing for four people, my girls are staying with my folks. My son can pack for himself. The girls are pretty easy, they will spend most of the time in my parents' pool. My husband, sigh, I'm not sure. The San Fran weather is so variable. He may end up with more clothes than me. Luckily we are driving although we are taking the Shelby, so trunk space is at a minimum.

If I don't get to post tomorrow, I will post on Wednesday. Hopefully some good gossip will come my way. I will blog every night that I'm there to pass on any great tidbits I get.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The San Francisco Post

I'm leaving Tuesday for the RWA Conference in San Francisco. We are driving up Tuesday evening, stopping for the night along the way and making our way up there by Wednesday afternoon. I didn't get into the Marriott. It sold out pretty quickly although I wasn't all that wild about staying there anyway. Crowds make me nervous and I prefer to be somewhere a little less busy. I'll be staying at the Villa Florence. It's only a few blocks from the Marriott and I'll get to walk by all those shops. Hope I make it to Conference!

My husband and son are going as well. My hubby wanted a chance to take his Shelby Mustang out on a major spin. We decided to take my son because he and his dad don't get to do a whole lot of things together. Supernerd is old enough to appreciate the city and hopefully have some fun. As he is entering jr. high this year, I suspect this is the last summer for him to be human until he graduates from high school. He wasn't too thrilled to go until I told him about all the food and that the hotel has wireless Internet access. I did make it clear I wouldn't be around to entertain them. They are going to have to fend for themselves. I did book them a trip to Alcatraz and have mapped it out on public transportation. But that's about it. There is plenty to do in the city, they should be fine.

So I'm planning my wardrobe, which of course means I need to go shopping. I'm not a "business casual" kind of gal. I'm not going to get too excited about my fashion sense since I'm not pitching and none of the editors I aim for are going to be attending. I'm not planning on going to any parties. I'm not going to the awards ceremony on Saturday night. I'm going to the workshops and maybe the luncheons and that's about it. Or hang out in the hotel bar. Or go to the mall.

I got my hair colored and trimmed yesterday. I have a nail appointment on Monday. I'll pull my suitcases this weekend from the attic. I'm going to print out the handouts and organize them in a binder. I gotta figure out which workshops I'm going to. Of course, there are periods where none of the workshops interest me and some periods where three or four are going on at the same time that I'd like to go to. That's what the cd's are for I guess.

I'm going to be fully wired. I'm taking my laptop so I can blog from conference. My cell phone is ready with email and Yahoo messenger. Plus, it takes decent pictures and video.

It should be fun. Heck, I'd go to a sanitation workers convention if it were in San Francisco.

Those of you going to conference, how ready are you?

Friday, July 18, 2008


My husband has been complaining about my crabbiness. I'm not really crabby...for the most part. Definitely being home with my kids does not make me a ray of sunshine and the heat bothers me. And lets not get into the fact my bamboo floor is buckling for some unknown reason. Actaully, that takes me from crabby straight to furious.

What I am is distracted. Its how I know I'm truly into my writing. For most of the time, part of my head is somewhere else. I'm scowling for no reason and I am forgetful. It doesn't matter what I do, part of me is in my story. It's misinterpreted as being in a bad mood.

When I'm writing, I focus pretty well, as long as the story is flowing for me. If the flow stops, then I get cranky. Writing becomes painful as does everything else. Then I find something else to do. I know I've said it before but it bears repeating, housework opens up the flow. I'm at about the mid-point of my story and I didn't have the rest of the story plotted out (I don't outline or do any pre-writing stuff) and I could feel my production slow up. I got up from the computer, worked on the laundry, juiced some lemons and worked on the dishes. Suddenly, it came together and I can now see all the way to the end of the book. Now I expect my word counts to increase exponentially until the end of the book as long as real life doesn't interfere.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Where Did the Weekend Go?

Don't you loved those plans which completely fall apart?

I had ambitions to write 7000 words this weekend. I think I eked out about 1000. Saturday started out okay but we ended up taking the crunched truck into the body shop and then headed for a much needed Costco trip. These trips take at least two hours and leave me totally wiped out. It took another hour to put everything away then it was time for dinner. Friday was my FIL's birthday, so my husband grilled him a steak took dinner over to him. With my MIL still recovering from surgery, they couldn't go out to celebrate so we tried to do the next best thing. Saturday night we got together with the rest of the family for cake and ice cream. I got about 500 words done.

Sunday I knew was going to be my day. My daughter had a friend over and that kept my girls entertained. Hubby was out doing yard work. The laundry was under control. Perfect time to write. However, I went to Michelle's blog where she talked about Facebook. When I got over there, I discovered other people like Tori, Bailey and Teresa. I ended up horsing around on that site for awhile.

Ah well, it was fun, but now I really need to focus on my writing this week. I think part of it was I needed a break. But the writing I did do was pretty good and I managed to get through a rough patch.

I posted over at Costco Junkie today. It also appears I fixed the feed on this blog. Not sure how I did it, but it seems to work now.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Catching a New Wave

I don't know, perhaps it qualifies as child abuse, but I have been subjecting my kids to 80's New Wave. I've always been a big New Wave fan, back when it was popular the first time. But this summer it has jumped into being the soundtrack of my summer.

Here we have one of my favorite songs from the era. This video personifies what a good 80's music video should have. Paul King's horrible green suit and spray painted Doc Martens along with his hair just screams 80's to me.

I'm sure part of my attraction is the nostalgia. This music was popular when I was in high school. Not that high school was any great shakes, but certainly I loved the music. Perhaps its the fast beats and the creative use of electronics. Certainly there was energy, it got you moving.

Oddly enough, I enjoyed the rough sound of punk as well. For fun, turn on the Sex Pistols and see what your kids do.

I suppose I love the slick sound of new wave, listening to the over-produced music was like reading a super glossy magazine. A nice way to spend a few hours without applying too much brain power. Maybe that's why I like it, it isn't thinking music, its fun music.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Back To Writing

I've plunged head first into writing again. In the last week I've cranked out about 13K words. Why now?

I've been trying to analyze the reasons. How could I go from a complete standstill to a word-cranker almost over night? It seems impossible to me, but page counts don't lie.

Is it a change in motivation? I don't think so. I've said it before and I stick with it. Writers are always motivated to write. That's part of their frustration, they want to write, crave the opportunity to bury themselves in their work, produce reams and reams of prose. But the distractions of life tend to interfere. I think about writing all the time, I plot stories in my head, spend an inordinate amount of time in daydreams creating characters. But when it comes to execution, I fall flat.

One of my biggest problems is that I'm spread pretty thin. Every year there is a bit more expected of me on all fronts. As a mom, I end up chauffering my kids around to their various activites. I also volunteer in their sports, school and extracurricular activites. I've read articles by writers who tell writers to avoid volunteering because it takes time from their writing. I disagree with that attitude. No book is as important as your family. If you can, spend an hour in your kid's classroom or helping out at a soccer practice once a week. It's not going to completely destroy your writing schedule. You can easily make it up by skipping some t.v. I do tend to volunteer too much for multiple reasons, not all of them altruistic. Its a good avoidance tactic from my writing.

Ah yes, avoidance. If I don't write it, I don't have to worry that its crap. That is a big one. Before I landed representation, I wrote without reservations. I'd had no experience with the marketplace so therefore I didn't feel any inhibitions. That changed when I finally experienced getting my book shopped. It twisted my thinking. It hindered my writing. By finding other distractions, I didn't have to deal with the fact my writing had wilted.

I also let other things overwhelm me. My "can't write in a dirty house" obsession is still there, but not as bad. My house doesn't get quite as dirty since my kids are older. And those three distractions have eased somewhat. The youngest can finally play with the olders without it being a constant fiasco.

My excuses pretty much evaporated. I also realized that I was going to the RWA conference without anything in the queue. I'm not planning on pitching anything, but it would be embarassing to get into a conversation with someone and admit I wasn't working on anything. I'd like to at least say I was finishing up my latest and hoping to have it submitted to my agent real soon. I'm finally comfortable enough to let my muse go and enjoy the writing again without worrying about whether it is marketable. It was marketable before, it will be again. Gotta trust myself moer.

Then there's the agent. I emailed her and and told her I'd have something to her around the end of the month. I'll feel like an utter fool if I didn't deliver.

I've instituted some self-discipline: I haven't played SimCity for week and I only go to TMZ a couple of times a day. Aware that I'm going to get distracted by the kids and house, I don't get upset, I make sure I do something else as well. I have to get up anyway so my back doesn't ache and give my fingers a rest. And finally, I discovered a New Wave staion on iTunes radio and I play it constantly. Nothing like a little synthesizer and drum machine to get the writing flowing.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Cruel Summer Part 2

I was hoping to be in full summer mode by now but we had a couple of things happen.

First, my mother in law ended up in the hospital. Her gall bladder ruptured. Because of her physical condition (she is very heavy plus her lungs are shot and she is on oxygen all the time) surgery was a dicey proposition. It was touch and go there for awhile. Fortunately, she made it through surgery and is doing far better than her doctors predicted. She is home now but the healing process is going to take awhile. I think it has made her take her health more seriously and I also think she realizes now how much she does have to live for.

Next up is the car accident. We bought a brand new F-150 a month ago (if you want a truck, now is the time to buy them, they aren't selling due to the gas prices and you can get a sweet deal). It's a very nice car with this really pretty paint color (desert sand, a rich, creamy metallic color). Last week we took the kids to the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach. It was smooth sailing all morning. The traffic was light going in, the aquarium wasn't very crowded and the kids behaved. They didn't fight and seemed to have a good time. We had a nice lunch and the kids behave liked angels.

Of course this was going to end badly.

We head home. Traffic is a little heavy, it was July 3rd so people were getting out of work early to start their weekend. But it wasn't unbearable. Then it happens. We're in the carpool lane. Two cars in the lanes next to us tangle (I only saw it out of the corner of my eye) and swerved into our lane. Hubby tried his best to avoid the collision but we ended up clipping one of the cars. Honestly, I barely felt the impact, I'm not sure the kids knew what happened. So we all pull off the freeway and have to way for two hours to get it all sorted out. The car we hit didn't get any real damage from us. His car was pretty munched from the initial accident. My truck isn't damaged too badly, but it's enough that it's going to need to be fixed and and have some paint work done. We didn't even have the license plates yet.

What ticks me off about this was I was going to suggest we hang around downtown Long Beach. They have this cute little tourist trap village and I thought it would be fun to wander around and maybe grab a bite to eat. But decided that the last thing we needed to do was get stuck on the freeway in the afternoon. Of course, by the time the highway patrol got to the scene and took their reports, it was the late in the afternoon and we got stuck in traffic going home. Yeah, no one was hurt and that's a good thing, but I'm still ticked. BTW, this isn't the first new car my hubby has banged up. We hadn't had my convertible for a year and he got it nearly totalled. It wasn't his fault, but still. And when his Taurs SHO was new he crunch someone. That was a doozy. Finding parts for that car was a beast.

And finally, I can't find a mophead for my mop. I have a Libman miracle mop and the mophead died. I can't find the replacement. I found it online, but by the time I buy the mophead and have it shipped, I could bought a new mop.

Hope your summer is proving aggravation-free.