Hello, Fall!

This morning, I woke up and greeted my children, “Happy Fall!”

Glum morning pouts returned, “It’s not fall, yet.”

“But it’s the 22nd. Yesterday was actually the cutoff, so I’m safe today.”

“My calendar says its tomorrow,” my teenage daughter replied.

glorious-fall-color

Hmph. “Your calendar is wrong, or this is one of those off years. Either way, I’m celebrating today! Hot cider anyone? Glass of red wine by the fire?”

red wine by fire

Fall is my favorite time of year. Not only the cooler temps and fall foliage (leaves I get to enjoy on television), but it signals a change in pace. Gone are the unruly days of summer when life is a free for all with the kids home, bored, restless, but it’s also the time of year I get back in the garden.

squash going great

In Central Florida, September is planting month and boy, have I been planting! So far, I have black beans, red beans, lima beans, cabbage, broccoli, tomatoes, squash, kale and peppers in for the new season. My okra and peanuts are finishing, making way for sweet onions, carrots, garlic and potatoes over the next weeks and months. Whew–doesn’t that just sound exciting?

How about you? Do you live where the gardens are going gangbusters right about now? If not, feel free to enjoy mine vicariously….at BloominThyme!

 

When bad is good

This past summer, at a conference for the Romance Writers of America, I attended a workshop by Sarah Wendell of Smart Bitches, Trashy Books about how to respond to reviews (basically, by not engaging, ever, at all.), how to read between the lines of them, and how sometimes, if you’re really lucky, bad reviews can be good for sales. It was a workshop I knew would be especially relevant for me this fall, as I steam towards my debut novel release date on September 30th, and I figured it would be well worth an hour spent cooped up in a hotel conference room.

Now that the reviews for The Last Breath are starting to trickle in on Goodreads and book review sites, I’m relieved and thrilled and mostly relieved to say most are overwhelmingly positive. But you can’t write for everyone, and not every reader is going to love your book. The criticisms I’ve gotten so far all center around one issue ~ too much sex. Kirkus Reviews, a site my writer friends assure me is notoriously harsh on authors, even went so far as to call it “sexual acrobatics” that got in the way of plot.

Perhaps if I hadn’t gone to that workshop, this would be the spot where I would defend my book and dispute the acrobatics of my sex scenes. Perhaps this would be where I would climb up on my soapbox and challenge and complain and make comparisons to other books, big books, with far more sex than mine. But Sarah Wendell’s words are whispering in my ear: Do not engage. Ever. At all.

So instead, I’ll just sit back and hope that her other words apply here, too. The words that said that sometimes, if you’re really really lucky, bad reviews can be good.

Because sexual acrobatics? Who doesn’t want to read about those?

Joining the (Writer) Club

In years past I’ve hung around forums (I recommend Absolute Write), blogged and networked online, and generally thrown myself toward a web community of awesome creative people, but I’ve never been part of a writers’ group.

A few months ago I decided that, because I needed a kick in the creative pants, I’d start a Facebook group for local-to-me writers. We could rally and connect through the power of the interwebs and then, if things felt right, meet in person and make it official.

ID-10041430

freedigitalphotos.net

Monday night was our first meeting! We converged on our town’s park—gray sky and blustery wind would not deter us—some with writing samples, others with a casual rundown of their journey and expectation. Out of the current nine in our group, five were able to attend. Not too shabby, methinks.

While so far we’re all women, we’re diverse in age, in resume, in personality, in chosen genre and publication goals. Given all this I think we’ll work well together, offering varied insight and constructive criticism, holding each other accountable, and encouraging each other—maybe we’ll even engage in a little friendly competition—to work and improve and make stuff happen.

Though I’ve never spearheaded anything before, and am not sold on being the “leader” of this group, I’m glad I took the initiative to get it going. I have some pretty solid intentions, and I hope the effort ahead proves to be beneficial for us all, in more ways than one.

If you’re a writer, are you part of a “club” or guild? What are its benefits for you?

If you’re not a writer, is there some other kind of group of which you’re a member? Do tell!

Knowledge is Power (and very distracting)

By the time my blog day comes around, I’ve usually gotten worked up about something, or inspired by someone, or wanted to express an opinion, or even ask advice. This week?

Nothing.

Nada.dictionary

Zilch.

I thought I’d cobble something together about a study I’m doing and headed over to the Miriam Webster online dictionary. Suddenly, my ADD-addled brain was distracted by a series of quizzes underneath the search bar.

How Strong Is Your Vocabulary? Well, I’m a writer and I’d really beefed up my vocab skills a few years ago (okay, maybe a decade ago) when I thought I wanted to go to graduate school, so I clicked on the link and did surprisingly well. Yep, my vocabulary isn’t bad.

Next, I couldn’t help clicking on the True or False quiz about stuff worth knowing. Stuff worth knowing? I want to know stuff. Heck, I’m trying to write about stuff, so of course I clicked on the link. Turns out I know some stuff. Not all stuff, but a good amount.

Next came Name that Thing, a visual vocabulary quiz. I’m humble enough to admit I didn’t do so well with this one. Maybe I’m not a visual learner.

But I’m no fool, because I didn’t even click on the Spell It: commonly misspelled words quiz. I know I can’t spell and I thank God daily for spell check and auto correct.

Speaking of auto correct, here’s another complete waste of time that makes me laugh. Every. Single. Time. Autocorrect blunders. Adult humor, folks. No kids allowed.

Now that I’ve managed to distract anyone who happens to read this blog, you’re welcome. Yes, I’m a geek with a sick sense of humor. I promise to do better next time :)

photo credit: Alan Cleaver via photopin cc

Something’s Gotta Give

A few years ago, a friend gave me a sign that read “Stop Me From Volunteering Again”.  Despite the fact it hangs front and center in my kitchen, I have yet to heed it.  I seem to have Volunteer’s Disease.  (It might have something to do with being a Tennessee Volunteer, but that’s a whole different story. :) )

That same disease seems to be spreading to my writing world.  I have hopelessly over committed myself for the remainder of 2014 and early 2015. I have two full length novels due by next March, not to mention a novella.  In addition I have a holiday novella releasing from Tule Publishing next month.

 

Available digitally from Tule Publishing Oct. 20 and in a print anthology in December.

Available digitally from Tule Publishing Oct. 20 and in a print anthology in December.

And the first book in a new series releasing from Berkley early next year.  (You can pre-order it here.)

 

Available January 6, 2015.  Pre-order it now!

Available January 6, 2015. Pre-order it now!

With all that comes copy edits, page proofs and promotion squeezed into a very full writing schedule.  Then there’s the home front:  a husband, two kids, a house to clean, a horse and a new puppy.  I’m exhausted just thinking about it!

Something’s got to give.  So, with this installment, I’m taking a sabbatical from Women Unplugged for a while.  I’ll still be here commenting and supporting my writing sisters, but I just won’t be blogging on this site for the time being.

Monday Night Romance revisedInstead I’ve been given an amazing opportunity to blog each week on USA Today’s Happily Ever After blog site.  Look for me there this Monday as Kim Lowe of SOS Aloha and I present Monday Night Romance, a fun look at romance books and America’s favorite fall sport:  football!  I hope you’ll stop by.  I’ll see you back here when the dust settles on my writing life in a few months!!

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