Monthly Archives: May 2007

Thirteen Shows I Love to Watch

I’m going to start with the ones I watch now, and the ones that captured my allegiance over the years…  Huh, do you notice a HUGE Discovery Channel/Court TV trend here?

1.  Deadliest Catch2.  Dirty Jobs

3.  Forensic Files

4.  Psychic Detectives

5.  Firefly

6.  Law and Order:  SVU

7.  Two and Half Men

8.  King of the Hill

9.  Dark Angel

10.  Homicide:  Life on the Street…

11.  The X-Files

12.  Star Trek:  The Next Generation

13.  MASH

What’s Going on With Me Wednesday

Woohoo!  Got my first draft of View done and off to my critique partner.  It’s still short, but hopefully Pat can tell me where I’m missing something.  My only concern now is that it’s too “quirky” for mainstream print, like all of my other TL Schaefer books.  Sigh.  If nothing else, I’ll try fishing for an agent with it and see what happens. 

On that note, I started working on Sea of Dreams again and got a bit done at lunch, which pushed me over the 3,500 word mark.  Doesn’t seem like a ton, but since this is a novella only slated for 30,000-ish words, that’s a pretty good start.  If I meet my goal of at least a thousand words a day, it should go pretty quickly.

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter

3,500 / 30,000
(11.7%)

In other news, my Keira Ramsay book REDEMPTION went on sale at Fictionwise last Monday, so if that’s your buying venue of choice, swing buy and pick it up!

TABT…The Assassin, by Rachel Butler

Hi all — sorry I didn’t post on Monday…I was neck-deep in revisions and watching Memorial Day stuff on the tube.  With us being so deeply intertwined with the military, it seemed like the right thing to do, as well as remember my Pop, who was a Korean War vet.

Anyway, with no further ado…

Selena McCaffrey knows what it’s like to fight for your life, to hone your body until it’s sharp and never let down your guard—for anyone.  A beautiful artist with a dark, painful past, Selena also knows how to keep secrets.  With a .40-caliber Smith & Wesson and a double-edged dagger packed in her bags, Selena is leaving Key West for the American heartland.  She’s going to kill a man.  Fourteen years earlier, a chance encounter plunged Selena into the grasp of a criminal mastermind, William Davis, who became her protector and twisted father-figure.  Now William has ordered her to move in next door to a Tulsa cop investigating a triple homicide.  A man of quiet strength, Detective Tony Ceola is closer than he knows to bringing down William’s criminal empire.  But as Selena slowly gets to know her new neighbor, her past starts slipping away and a choice appears before her eyes: between the man who trapped her in a world of violence and lies—and another who can set her free…if she doesn’t kill him first. 

This was a book that was rife with twists and turns.  I’ll admit that I figured out who the baddie was pretty early into the book, but that didn’t stop it from being interesting.  Selena is a great sympathetic character, and I absolutely adored Tony and his family.  The police work was done very realistically, and totally drew me into the story.   For me, this wasn’t so much romantic suspense as it was a look into the characters of a flawed hero and heroine, and I enjoyed every minute of it! 

Freaky Location Friday…Sao Miguel Island, Azores, Portugal

August and I visited the island of Sao Miguel while we were stationed on Terceira, one of the other islands in the archipelago.  We visited almost every place on the hyperlinked website while we were there (and have the pics to prove it…they look frighteningly familiar *g*).  Here’s how it played out… 

An American nurse flew to the base every month from Sao Miguel to give us nursing training…she’d met and fallen in love with a Portuguese man while practicing in Boston, and when he asked her to come live with him, she ditched the states.  Soooo, when we asked her about a good hotel to stay in, she insisted that we come stay with them.  The initial plan was to just stay one night and then find a hotel, because we didn’t want to impose.  When Joao, our host, met us at the airport, he whisked us away to his “apartment”…which was basically the entire 17th floor of the tallest building on the island (18 floors…you can see it on the website…third picture down under Ponta Delgada).  Yeah.  Apparently we’d befriended one of the island’s elite.  Turns out his family basically owned the appliances industry within the Azores, and was heavily involved in geothermal power, which is a huge thing there (since they’re basically sitting on inactive volcanoes).  So he shows us our “room”, which is pretty much a damned apartment… 

Since we’re not fools, when he offered the use of it for the week, we jumped on it.  Partly because the hotels there were almost as pricey as Rome (think $180/nigh), but also because he was truly a great guy who delighted in showing us “his” island. We spent the first day kind of getting our bearings, wandering around the waterfront, checking out the fort, that kind of thing.  Then Joao hooked us up with a driver.  It cost us $100/day, but that’s cheap considering how much rentals cost there, and this guy knew exactly where to go and what to see.  We hung out with him for two days and had a blast, cruising the entire island.  We had lunch cooked in volcanic vents, checked out a pineapple factory, visited Sete Ciudad, a stronghold that successfully held against pirates, and so many other places! 

Because Joao took such great pride in his island, he was instrumental in us seeing more than traditional tourists would… we repaid him by fighting over the dinner check every night *g*!  I mean, c’mon, we’re not paying squat for room and board, let us do that much, at least!  One particularly fabulous dinner was a multiple course deal… all I remember is that we ate for what seemed like hours, but were never overly stuffed, got to eat prawns the size of lobsters (I’m NOT shitting you) the four of us went through three bottles of GOOD wine, after dinner drinks, coffee and dessert, and when the tab came…are you ready???  $120.  For. All. Four. Of. Us. 

It was with real regret that we left Joao and Ponta Delgada… I keep telling August that one day we’ll go back… I’d love to see Joao again, because even though we thanked him profusely and kept in touch for a few years, he was the bestest host in the whole world and I’d love to tell him that again! 

Thursday Thirteen

Thirteen Reasons I Love Oklahoma…Okay y’all know I’ve seriously fallen in love with my adopted state…and here’s why:

1.  The people… Some of the best people in the world live here.  These folks will give you the shirt off their back if you need it, and you might never even know their name

2.  No freakin’ traffic!  Yeah, Oklahoma City and Tulsa can get a smidge congested, but I’ve driven in SoCal, San Francisco, Boston and Dallas…no comparison!

3.  No real crime…again, I’m comparing to other places I’ve lived, and the difference is simply astounding.  Meth used to be the big problem here, but since we adopted the Sudafed law (as I call it *g*), it’s almost non-existent.  Yesterday morning they made a comment that we’d had our 50th homicide state-wide.  Yeah, it totally sucks that there’d be that many, but keep in mind the Oklahoma City metro area alone has almost three-quarters of a million people, and the Tulsa metro rings in around close to half a mil (I was surprised too).  Most of those are domestics and such.  Stacked up against the population, it’s still a really low number

4.  Geography… We’re smack dab in the middle of the US, which means it basically takes a two-day drive to get *anywhere*!

5.  Scenery…I’ve never seen a state so varied in what you can see/do in such a short span of time.  From the gorgeously wooded southeast corner, to the red carpet country of the northwest, almost every eco-system in the US is represented here.

6.  Heritage… as one of the last states to be recognized (we’re celebrating our centennial this year), you’d think we wouldn’t have a rich background, but you’d be wrong.  Just look at our history… the Trail of Tears, the Chisholm Trail, the Dust Bowl, the Land Rush.  All of these things made Oklahoma a hearty, strong state…which we desperately needed in ’94 with the Murrah Building Bombing and in ’03, when the biggest tornado on record (EVER) swiped through our state.

7.  Celebrities… Will Rogers, James Garner, Toby Keith, Reba McIntyre, Garth Brooks…geesh, that list just starts it out!  And every single one of them is proud to be an Okie.

8.  Housing prices… What you get for the money is simply astonishing.

9.  Bricktown… When we moved to OK in 1997, Bricktown in Oklahoma City was a vacant, glass-littered, downright blighted area.  Now it’s thriving, a beautiful mini riverwalk the winds past awesome restaurants, kitchy shops and one of the best minor league ballparks in the country.

10.  Small-town feel… Whether you’re in Oklahoma City, Tulsa or Enid, the small town feel of
Oklahoma pervades.  People are genuinely nice…the actually smile for no apparent reason!

11.  Military support… I’ve never seen a state that so readily and enthusiastically supports the military.  Of course part of that is fiscal (a base/fort brings in lots of moola), but it’s also the fact that Oklahoman’s are genuinely patriotic.  I don’t mean that in a “I support everything the government says” way… Troop support is paramount, as is the very genuine desire to make our bases/forts the very best they can be.

12.  Oil rigs… What other state boasts a working oil rig on the grounds of its capitol…or one in the middle of a mall parking lot??  It’s quite amusing to see.

13.  EcoCulture… For a state that relies on oil as a primary resource, we’ve also begun developing alternate fuels…from wind power to ethanol. 

What’s Going on with Me Wednesday…

Well, I’m officially in rewrite hell, tho the first half of the book is flowing pretty well.  It’s always interesting for me to re-read what I’ve written to see if it works like I’d hoped it would.  So far, so good.  I know that the hard stuff is coming tho…the part where I begin to incorporate the three pages of thoughts I jotted down as I was running pell-mell toward the end.  Which is now going to change, just a smidge (sigh).  I realized, as I was rereading it, that I’d weakened my hero too much by letting the heroine handle a majority of the climax, even if it is her story.  But hey, that just means that much more conflict and action, right?  LOL.  I’m really hoping to get a huge wad of the rewrites done this week and over the long weekend.  We don’t really have any plans except to chill and barbeque, so that should be a perfect venue for me to really pump out the word count.  In my happy world, I’ll be done, or almost done with it by 1 June.   

If I can actually keep to that timeline, this is probably the most “productive” book I’ve written to date.  By that I mean how long it’s taken me to write it versus word count.  I officially “started” this book last summer, but a family crisis and Redemption edits/rewrites put it on the back burner until the holidays.  So, realistically, I’ve written this book in just over six months, which really surprised me when I looked back, because it seemed like I’d been working on it for much longer than that.  Then again, I guess that’s right because we released Redemption in February. 

Personally, I’d love to be able to do that…write one “big book” a year, and a couple of novellas.  Once I’m done with View and it’s winged its way to my crit partners and alpha reader, I’m going to start on Sea of Dreams.  I’d love to get that out the door prior to heading to the RWA convention in mid-July.  We’ll see…at a projected 30K, I might actually be able to pull it off *g*.  In other news, Saints releases in two weeks…sent the line edits back last week, and I so over-excessively used “then”, I’m surprised the line editor didn’t drive to Oklahoma and beat me senseless.  Sigh.  I wrote that story so long ago that I *hope* I’ve moved past that. 

Okay, that’s it for today…now I’m off to look at View and see how many times I typed “then” *G*!

TABT…Touch of Night by Susan Spencer Paul

Niclas Seymour hails from an ancient Welsh clan, descended from magic.  For generations they hid their power, acquired great wealth, and entered England’s aristocracy.  Then came the blood curse that left Niclas a night wanderer with no peace.  He searches for redemption, and finds the possibility of it, in Lady Julia Lindley.  Julia is an old maid at twenty-five, positive she will never wed.  She’s harbored a secret love for Niclas for years, and consents to his escort from London to Wales in order to resolve a problem between their two families. 

I’ve been reading more historicals lately, especially those with a paranormal bent, and this was a great addition.  While there’s not a ton of sexual tension between the two characters, Niclas is a great dark hero and Julia a breath of fresh air, with her adventurous spirit and longing to be free of her stifling family.  The magic and worldbuilding here is great, and the story took many unexpected twists and turns.  The secondary characters were amusing and added humor.

M/M Monday…Independence Day (1996)

Independence Day (1996)–OMG–this movie is over ten years old.  Talk about aging me!  Anyway, it was on the tube last night as I was neck-deep into revisions (which explains why I’m not talking about a movie made in this decade *g*).

On the whole, this is one of those movies I can revisit on a semi-regular basis, because I really like it with the exception of one characterization.  Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum are fabulous in this flick, Bill Pullman plays the President pretty convincingly, and there are lots of secondary players (including my new fave Adam Baldwin) who stand out.  My only real quibble with the movie was Randy Quaid’s character.  It just made me cringe every time he came on the screen, and his role in the climax was incredibly cheesy.   It’s not Quaid himself, because he’s an awesome actor, but the actual character the writers chose to insert.  It yanks me out of the “thrill” of the movie each and ever time.  Sigh.

In a nice change, the special effects still stand up ten years later, so obviously the the CGI guys had their shit together.    While Indpendence Day isn’t something that’s gonna reel in critical acclaim or Oscars, it IS entertaining, and a most satisfying way to spend a few hours.  I mean, get serious…Will Smith in a flightsuit for two hours…yum!

Freaky Location Friday … the LOOOONG ride from Rome to Germany

So in my previous post you got the gist of why Rome just wasn’t for us.  Today I’m going to talk about how we returned to Germany.

We caught a train that morning, and it was all good…got into Venice just as night was falling, and I adore Venice, so we got some grub, wandered the streets for a bit, and then boarded the night train north.  Now keep in mind, this whole experience was the first time I’d ever ridden the rails (and since the US doesn’t use rail travel as extensively, it’s been the last).  We couldn’t get a sleeper car, so instead just crammed ourselves into our seats and tried to crash.  I say “tried” because we were in a section that had a group of disaffected American kids.  By kids I mean in their late teens, early twenties, and if you’ve ever seen Beverly Hills 90210 you’ll know what I mean.  These wanks talked the whole friggin’ night, and it was obvious they were making a serious attempt to impress someone (who the hell knows who).  They veered from existentialism to getting back home to the trust fund/internship in Daddy’s firm.  Now I know I was a bit of a piker when I was young (who wasn’t), but I just wanted to bang their heads together.  It didn’t help that I was still not feeling so hot.  We finally pulled into the Innsbruck train station at something like 5 a.m., and I was never so glad to see the back of someone’s ass.

Now, keep in mind we’ve been traveling for something like twenty hours at this point, we’re dog tired, and I’ve begun to get sicker…like coughing up a lung sick.  It’s November in the freakin’ Alps, and the next train north doesn’t leave until 7 a.m.

The Innsbruck train station, which had provided me with such entertainment earlier in our trip, is quite pretty in the “working” hours.  Not so much in the early morning.  The underground corridor where you walk from the actual rails to the staion itself, was dank, cold and smelled like wet concrete and urine.  Yum!  NOT! 

We hunkered down in the station itself at first, but there was just a weird feel to it…like we were just waiting to be victims.  It was obviously a place to crash at night for the homeless, which I have no problem with, but there were also people just hanging out, and that’s what gave us the heebie jeebies.  I couldn’t tell if they were dealing (and I’m not talking about a bit of pot changing hands, this had a whole icky heroin exchange feel) or waiting to roll someone.  After about half an hour of being on hyper-alert (which sucks when you’ve been half-awake all freakin’ night), we decided to just wait next to our departure train because there was a guard down there.  So we trouped back through the corridor (blech) and settled in on a totally uncomfortable bench in the freakin’ freezing fog.  

Poor August was having a stroke because I was getting progressively sicker, and there wasn’t a damned thing we could do about it but wait.  The conductor finally took pity on us and let us load a few minutes early, since we were the only people on the platform, and damn, it was warm!  LOL.

The train took off right at 7, and we slept most of the way to Germany, only waking up when we hit the checkpoint at the border.  At that point, we were just happy to be heading north!  We finally debarked in Garmisch, got a room at a GREAT hotel, and settled in for a few days to recoup.

While our trip to Europe was fabulous, we both decided we would have been better off if we’d never headed further south than Venice!

Thursday Thirteen…

Okay, so I’m hopping on the Thursday Thirteen bandwagon because I work soooo much better when I’m not winging it *g*.  Soooo, without further ado, here we go for the day!

As you may or may not know, I’m the Editorial Director at Liquid Silver Books, but I also help out with acquisitions when needed (or when I’m trying to avoid writing *g*)

Thirteen Things I Wish I Didn’t See in Aquisitions

1.  Incorrectly formatted manuscripts.  By this I mean stuff that is submitted with NO paragraph breaks.  Yup, just one loooooong paragraph.  Sometimes the whole book looks like that.  Sigh.  Yeah, I know, formatting shouldn’t matter, it should be the content of the work, but at some point it needs to be fixed, and I’m NOT having my editorial staff do it!

2.  Submissions that don’t even begin to touch our core readership.  We’ve had inspirationals…yes, inspirationals…submitted.  Now I’ve got no prob with that kind of book, but it’s obviously not a good fit with a company that publishes EROTIC romance.

3.  Misspellings.  Run spell check before you submit, for God’s sake!

4.  Characters who are cardboard.  Erotic romance, by it’s nature, tends to be shorter than “big” books.  Why?  IMO, it’s because the characters are usually in bed early, so the sexual tension and romance arcs you see in traditional “big” books is accelerated.  Soooo, it’s hideously important that the hero, heroine, and secondary characters are well developed almost from the get-go.  The reader should empathise with them from almost the first scene, and care about why they’re ready to do the nasty almost from page one.

5.  Submissions that are obviously not critiqued.  Let’s be honest, most of the folks cold-subbing stuff to online houses are new writers.  Yeah, there are some out there who decided that their book was damned good even if NY turned it down repeatedly, and in lots of cases, they’re right on target.  But there are the other folks, those who want to “try out” writing, and once they’ve whipped through a 20K word novella, they send it out to every publisher under the sun.  Without ever having anyone else read it.  And even if they did, not listening to any feedback.  I can’t say this enough.  Get your stuff read before you sub.  Even if it’s by the chick in the cubicle next to you.  And LISTEN to her comments!

6.  Use your word processor’s Grammar Checker.  There are these two little punctuation marks that drive most people over the edge.  Commas and semi-colons.  MS Word’s Grammar Checker is usually pretty damned good about picking up on their usage.  Believe in it.  I’d rather have you over-comma than not use any at all!

7.  “My Book is Perfect” syndrome.  This falls into the editing realm as well, but no book is perfect (not even mine *g*).  The aquisitions folks and your editor are folks who have read countless books and know what/where the market is.  We see the sales figures, watch the trends, and buy appropriately.  Now, if a book is just plain fan-freakin-tastic, then screw trends, we’ll buy it anyway *g*, but you get my drift.  When it comes to edits, your editor IS NOT on a mission to change your voice (they wouldn’t have lasted this long if they were).  They’re there to polish your work…hopefully to the point where the very last thing a reader/reviewer is thinking…”wait, that’s not right, I read that her eyes were blue on page 3″ Or “No one actually talks like that”

8.    To caveat on #7…nasty letters telling the acquisitions manager how absolutely wrong they were to reject your book.  I don’t know about other places, but we tend to send out pretty detailed “r” correspondence (unless you’re subbing in the wrong genre), and having you argue with us doesn’t exactly make us want to read your next work.

9.  Subbing to multiple places at the same time.  If you are going to do that, please let us know.  And if another pub accepts, then pull it off the table.  Granted Liquid Silver is pretty good about getting back to you in a jiff, but if someone beats us to the punch, then please have the courtesy to keep us in the loop.

10.  Not letting us know your book has been previously pubbed.  While getting books from other pubs is a bennie (previously edited/proofed=less work for everyone), we need to know that from the beginning for two reasons…first, we need to make sure your rights are free and clear before we touch it (bad ju-ju w/other pubs) and second, because we need to let our readers know that it’s been republished before they buy it.  You KNOW how pissed you get when you buy a book by a NY author in Walden’s that’s been “repackaged” and you don’t realize it until you’ve plunked down your $7.

11.  Disappearing off the face of the earth when you’ve promised revisions (prior to contract).  If you pub with someone else, YAY for you! (and I DO mean that *g*)  Please let us know!!  We keep our “pending” books in a queue that we revisit on a regular basis.  That’s time we can better spend elsewhere and stop bugging the crap out of you.

12.  No synopsis on partials.  Yes, I know synopses are a pain in the ass, but they’re necessary, especially on partials.  Maybe we love your writing style, but we aren’t sure if the book is going to be erotic enough.  Giving us more (via the synopsis) will tell us if the necessary plot arc is there, in addition to showing us the sustained erotic emphasis.

13.  Okay, I’m tired now *g*.  Bet those are twelve things you never wanted to know!  LOL