Monthly Archives: December 2007

Just general nattering…

Well, Christmas is over, and the New Year is right around the corner.

My FIL left on Friday, so Saturday was one of those “reconnect with your spouse” days.  Yesterday was a whole diff story tho…hubby was watching bowl games and such, so even tho I went grocery shopping, I got over 3K done on Breath of Heaven.  Wooohoo for me!!  My goal for Monday is 5K…we’ll see if I can live up to that.

On the agent front, I’ve still got 4 out (with one reject), so 5 total that I’ve queried since mid-November.

My friend Rinda and I had a gab-fest Saturday night, and she made me start thinking about revising the first chapter of View.  I definitely see her point, and the revisions wouldn’t be all that difficult, just a bit time intensive, so we’ll see if I don’t fool with it a bit AFTER I hit my goal for tomorrow!!

In the holiday zone…

With the arrival of my father-in-law, I’m officially in the holiday zone.  I’ll check in when I can, especially if I have something fun to post.

Merry Christmas, y’all!!

Thirteen Things That Make Me Smile (holiday version)

I LOOOOVE the holidays.  So, because we’re a hop, skip and jump away from Christmas, here’s the list of things that make me smile (or just plain happy) about this time of year:

1.  When people remember what the holiday is really all about.  Those of you who know me are aware I’m an agnostic.  That doesn’t mean I don’t believe in a divine power, and when I see folks who REALLY “get it” around this time of year, it fills my heart with joy.

2.  Snow.  I absolutely adore it when it snows any time between Thanksgiving and the New Year.  There’s just something pristine about newly fallen snow that is perfect for this time of year.

3.  Christmas Songs.  Particularly those by Nat King Cole, Bing Crosby, Lou Rawls, Vanessa Williams and Steve Tyrell.  Oh, and I can’t forget my one “must listen to” that’s a diametric opposite of those…Santa Claus and His Old Lady by Cheech & Chong.

4.  The smell of baking.  I am not, in any way, shape or form, a baker.  So when hubby decides to fire up the oven and bake cookies or whip up a batch of fudge, I’m in absolute heaven.

5.  Hearing greetings from the war front on the radio.  During the first Iraq war, you never really heard stuff like that, but now it seems like a regular happenstance on most radio stations.  Thanks SO much for that, radio honchos, because we need to remember that there are folks who are far, far away from home, missing their families.

6.  Hanging ornaments on our Christmas Tree.  This year when we moved we got a pre-lit tree (YEAH), but it’s a little smaller than our old one (taller, tho), so we had to ditch a bunch of the filler ornaments that we’d been carting around for 16 years.  Now each and every ornament on our tree means something.  In most cases, it’s a present we’ve gotten each other every year, or our annual “year” ornament.

7.  Receiving Christmas cookies from the kids next door.  This was a first for us, and was especially cool (and touching) since we’ve just moved in.

8.  Opening my home to my friends and co-workers.  We hadn’t had a Christmas gala for a few years, mostly because hubby was sliding into end-of-career burnout, and then afterward, “retirement is bliss” euphoria.  But this year, I think we’ve started a new tradition!

9.  Putting money in a Salvation Army kettle whenever I see one.  I’m a big charity person anyway, but I NEVER fail to put something in the SA bucket when there’s a bell ringer.  And more when it’s cold out.

10.  Christmas movies.  Specifically, Scrooged, It’s a Wonderful Life, A Charlie Brown Christmas, Holiday Inn and, on Christmas Eve, The Little Drummer Boy.  Hubby finds it very amusing that I choose this time of year (and The Little Drummer Boy) to be more secular, but that’s the one night I want it to be very clear what this is all about.

11.  “Christmasifying” our house the day after Thanksgiving.  We’re still on a turkey and wine hangover, the Nebraska game is on, and all is well in the Schaefer household when the tree and all the decorations go up.

12.  Thinking of my Dad.  This year is the second year without my Pop, and hubby and I were talking about how proud he’d be that we chose this house (or rather, it chose us).  It brought back a lot of fond memories of Christmas past, like the very first one my whole family stuffed themselves to our tiny apartment in Vacaville, CA for our very first Christmas as a married couple.  Then August’s dad and his wife came for New Years.  What a blast!

13.  Last, but most important…knowing that I’ve had the absolute love and support of the best man I know for the last 17 years.  It’s been a fabulous ride, baby!  Now here’s to many more!

On holidays, family, weight loss and pathetic word counts

So while I’m ecstatic that the holidays are here (I LOVE them), I always seem to forget that every year I set my word count goals super high, and then tank them….seriously, it’s pathetic.  I think I’ve logged a whopping 500 words in the last week or so.

Part of it is because I’m taking two glorious weeks off starting Thursday afternoon, so by the time I get home from the day job, my mind is still sorting patient information, strategizing our next quality measure and all sorts of gobbledy gook.  Where does that leave me on a creative scale?  With bupkus.  Hell, with less than bupkus.  I’m 8800 words deep on Breath of Heaven, and I’d LOVE to finish it over the holiday break.  Heck, I actually might, but here comes the writing whammy…my father-in-law is spending 8 of those 14 days with us.

That’s totally awesome, because I love him to death, but I fear my lofty “finish the novella” dreams are gonna fly right out the window in a flurry of doing fun family things.  We’ll see, but I’m a pragmatist, so I’m not holding out for anything stupendous when it comes to whipping out 21,000 words, y’know?

On a happy note, we had our open house/housewarming on Friday, and it was a huge hit.  Unfortunately, we now have more booze in our house than you can shake a stick at.  Do our friends know us, or what *g*.

And in even happier news, despite the preponderance of fudge, cookies, summer sausage and mini-quiches that are being passed around like no one in my clinic is never gonna eat again…my weight has…are you ready for this?  STAYED THE SAME.  Yes, friends and neighbors, even though I haven’t hit the gym in what seems like forever, somehow I’ve maintained the 15 pounds I lost this year.  I think it’s subconscious portion control and the fact I drink a TON of water.  Well, that and the fact we stopped eating lunch out (except for once a week, as a treat).

Starting with the new year, the base has a spin off of The Biggest Loser, but we use teams of four for motivation.  Ours is called Three Amazons and a Pygmy (picture three 6′ tall blondes and a short blonde).  Their goal is to lose 20 pounds in three months.  Me?  Well, I’d be more than pleased to lose 15 pounds over the entire year, and keep it off.  Hell, it took me 17 years to gain this weight, so it’s gonna take more than one workout-laden year to take it off.  If nothing else, I’ve figured that out!!

I’ll forever carry a glass with me…

After seeing this.  And a coffee mug too. Shit.  I worked in the hotel biz for almost 5 years back in the bad old days, both as a housekeeper and then later as the manager.

If I’d caught one of my staff doing this, they would have been fired on the spot.  Can you say ewwww?

Real Women DO Wear Combat Boots

So I know I posted the pic and story of Vanessa Dobos a bit back, but I also came across this and it just makes me happy as hell.

Jill Stevens is a medic with the Army National Guard (she joined six months before 9/11) and was recruited to participate in the Miss Utah pageant…which she won this year!  So now she’s up for Miss America. No shit.  Check her out.  Talk about being an inspiration!

0_61_stevens_jill.jpg

And here she is in Afghanistan…

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For once I’ll actually be watching the pageant, and rooting for her long and loud!  If you’d like to read more about her, check out this link:  http://www.armytimes.com/news/2007/11/army_GIJill_071123w/

Quick Friday Check-In

Hey all — just a quick pop in to say howdy…we’re hunkering down for 4-6″ of snow tonight, so getting laid in with supplies and such, just in case.

Of course, eve if we get the max, that won’t preclude us from pulling out the 4 wheel drive and going Christmas shopping tomorrow *g*.

Hope everyone has a faboooo weekend and I’ll talk atcha on Monday!

Word Count and Agent Update

Well, I’ve been moving along at a pretty decent speed on Breath, at least for me.  The damned day job just keeps getting more taxing…we’ve got an inspection coming in May and the freak-out has commenced!  I wrote 1,500 on Monday, and another 1,600 done yesterday, despite the fact my brain was thinking about quality improvement and patient safety when I got home!

When it comes to the great Agent Update, nothing has changed, alas.  If anything changes, y’all will be the first to know. Okay, behind my critique partners, Skully, Leigh and Pat and my bestest writing bud Rinda.  LOL.

  • Agent #1        Queried in Oct…rejected (nicely) in late Nov
  • Agent #2        Queried in Dec…requested partial sent out on 12/4/07
  • Agent #3        Queried in Dec…requested partial sent out on 12/4/07
  • Agent #4        Queried in Dec…”blind” partial (as per their guidelines) sent…no reply yet
  • Agent #5        Queried in Dec…no reply yet

I’ve got another three or four agents in the hopper whom I’ll query if those I’ve already sent something to aren’t interested.

I had an interesting conversation last week with not one, but two people…going to do them in sequential order *g*.

So I’m talking to Rinda, and through the course of our conversation, my semi-buzzed ass relates that I’m afraid I’m not getting deep enough because I like to write about “normal people” in extraordinary situations, rather than secret agents or werewolves and the like.  Damn…talk about a revelation.  Am I getting deep enough with my books?  Am I hitting that black moment appropriately?  This was never a concern when I was just writing for the thrill of it, rather than with an eye toward saleability.  Granted, the last “big” books I’ve written have been “books of the heart”, at least at the time.  Now I find myself going back and looking at them in a really, really analytical fashion.  Are they good enough for NY?  For the big boys and girls?  Or am I smoking dope, and just writing what I want to?

Which then thrusts me into conversation two, with Leigh.  We seriously talked about the comfort of writing “e”…we get to pen the stories that strike us, rather than those that may be saleable to the titans.  Is this actually wrong?  Shouldn’t we be working on what fires us up, what makes our writer’s juices flow (and no, that’s not a dirty thought *g*), rather than what’ll get us into the NY pantheon?

It’s a serious conundrum.  Really.  Because if you break into NY, the theory is that if you sell decently, you’ll be able to write the books that spark you, rather than the same old, same old.

But now, having worked for a really solid “e” company (shameless plug here:  www.liquidsilverbooks.com) for several years on the management end, I have to wonder.  We turn aside books from previously pubbed folks because they’re not strong enough, etc, etc.  So does this make us different from NY?  I think not.

As an example, I subbed my previously lauded mainstream books (Summerland and Brotherhood) to another e-publisher.  Not because the publisher I was with was bad or anything, but because their focus had shifted, and I wanted more sales.  Basic math, right?  Not so much.  The publisher I subbed to straight up didn’t care for them.

WTF?  I’m not saying this as a sour grapes thing (notice the lack of any names here *g*), but as a point of fact.

As a writer, you not only have to have a saleability factor, but “hit” the editor in question at the right time.  It’s a matter of luck, more than I’d ever realized when I ventured into this crazy game.  And I’m finding, as I grow some balls and venture into the agent search, that it’s much the same thing.

Of Ice Storms and Writing and Buying Books…

Well, we’re in the midst of an ice storm here in Oklahoma (tho Kansas seems to be getting hit even worse, from the looks of the radar).  In some ways that’s really bad (obviously), but for me, not so much so.  I got a decent amount of writing done on Monday on Breath of Heaven (1500 words) because we didn’t have to go to work, and I got to sleep in today, because we don’t have to report until 10 am, if they don’t call the whole thing off again before that.  I scraped at least half an inch of ice off my truck on Sunday, and another eighth of an inch on Monday, so this is a no-joke deal. Luckily we still have power, which, in this drafty old house, is a mighty good thing.

While I’m happy that up here in Northern OK we didn’t get hit as hard as some other folks (we got completedly whacked in 2002, versus the rest of the state…power was out for over a week, that sort of thing), reading my chapter-sister’s horrendous accounts down in OKC dampens my enthusiasm of getting paid by Uncle Sam to sit home and write more than a bit.

In happy news, I started getting the Romantic Suspense entries for the National Reader’s Choice Awards in over the last few days, and it looks like some great reading for me in the future *g*.

Since we’ve been on a budget (buying a new house and all), I’ve curtailed my book buying habit.  Until about two months ago (when we made offer on said house and cut a deal on extraneous spending) I hadn’t realized how much of an addiction buying books was for me.  Seriously.  Even though I get a ton of free books when it comes to conferences and such, I hadn’t realized how much I was spending on reading material on a weekly basis.  Think of weekly releases, which I faithfully follow, to Fictionwise, which has no doubt seen a serious dip in profit since I stopped buying.

That doesn’t mean that I’m totally unhinging myself *g* by not buying a thing, but it does mean that my wish list on Amazon takes on a much more important role!!  Hubby had a serious list to contend with for Christmas, and a limited budget, so we’ll see what he pulls out of the hat.

Because I can’t read any of the NRCA books until the final scores come in, I’m sitting here looking at the growing pile of great books and seriously salivating.  Oh God, when did it come to this?  I’m like a damned junkie!

I still have my To Be Read Pile, but since the move, it’s dwindled significantly, and I’m holding onto them like a miser until Christmas, when I know I’ll get a bunch o’ books under the tree.  Most highly rated on my “wish list” is Lord of the Fading Lands (CL Wilson), Caressed by Ice (Nalini Singh), and Die for Me (Karen Rose).  And of course La Nora with Blood Brothers and Linda Howard with Cover of Night.

A junkie, I tell you!!

So what’s on your Christmas list?  Besides an absence of snow and ice?

Goofy Spam I got…

So obviously the spammers from hell have figured out the e-mail address attached to my website…check this out…if they’d actually used correct English, I might have taken this seriously (okay, I wouldn’t have, but hell, someone just tried to take my Mom and almost succeeded).  Check out the word usage I’ve bolded…I know the IRS is all about persecuting…but seriously *LOL*

— “IRS.gov”

To: ***** > Subject: IRS Notification – Tax refund> From: IRS.gov

> Date: Mon, 03 Dec 2007 07:18:37 -0600

———————————

After the last annual calculations of your fiscal activity we have determined that you are eligible to receive a tax refund of $182.50.  Please submit the tax refund request and allow us 6-9 days in order to process it.  A refund can be delayed for a variety of reasons. For example submitting invalid records or applying after the deadline.  To access the form for your tax refund, please click here (DELETED)

Note: For security reasons, we will record your ip-adress, the date and time.

Deliberate wrong inputs will be persecuted by law.

Regards,

Internal Revenue Service

 © Copyright 2007, Internal Revenue Service

U.S.A..

~~~~~~~~~~

Damn, these guys are ballsy as hell!  Now if only they could get the whole English thing down *g*