Friday, April 29, 2011

Decisions

Still undecided on the cover art. I love both mock-ups. One is a night shot of the city of Chicago from across the frozen lake. It really sets the scene for the story. The second is of a snow covered plant taken in soft focus. It looks more artistic than the first. The city shot grabbed my attention, but after checking and rechecking the proofs, it looks more like a travel guide or something to that nature. The second one honestly doesn't have much to do with the story besides winter time, but I think it has a more professional look to it. I showed them to a few of my sample readers to get their input. Two have responded thus far with the unanimous vote for the city scene. I mentioned the long term goal of the cover and my concern for it being too touristy, but they still stood by their decision. I still have two more out there to hear from. After staring at the pics for a good portion of the past few days, I have a tiny list of questions and recommendations for the design team to see if I could tweak them a bit. All in all, I really do like them both and am even more excited about the whole thing.

I have been working for some time with the goal to be able to reduce my hours to part time. I had hoped to be there by now, but with several financial and other set backs, it hasn't happened. Colt and I sat down and gave our situation a serious look and were able to cut back here and there to advance my goal. It looked as if I could cut back on working some, but not quite as much as I had hoped. Have I employed the needed adjustments to do this? No. It still felt like I was being selfish about the whole thing. Much to my surprise, another situation has come up that will undoubtedly help. My brother is looking to cut back on his expenses as well and decided that his car was not fitting into his 'needs' category. How does this help me? My main expenses are my Jeep payment and the need to carry my own insurance if I go to part time. If I were to reduce my car payment- say, by nearly half -it would be pretty much where I needed it to be.

One problem: The mini is a stick. I don't like sticks. It's not that I can't drive them, I just am not a fan. Honestly, I'm lazy. I spoke with Dillon about it and he decided I needed to have an all out test drive in the Mini. An hour and a half later, I'm still going back and forth. Love that little car, but am terrified at the same time. It is a bottle rocket on four wheels. Six speed pistol. Speeding ticket generator. Need I go on?

The testing started with Dillon having me stall it twice so I can see how far I can push it before it falls. It's very forgiving. Second, we did this at night so I couldn't see the shifter. That didn't bother me too much. I have two areas that made me the most nervous. One, the entrance to the office. The second is 31st street (stop and go). I did a major stall and die on Stratford Hill. And after we all caught our breaths from laughing so hard, I finally made it up. It wasn't the stop sign in the middle of the hill, it was the right hand turn where I bogged it down too much, then gave up because I thought I had already killed it. Dillon is a very patient co-pilot. Stratford accomplished, on to the office. This was tragically bad. I started into the turn, there is a HUGE dip that I was afraid to peel off the front end of the car on, and took too long. Oncoming traffic came and I panicked. Stall, restart, jump into parking lot. Dillon only laughed the entire time. I wanted to cry. He drove it around awhile to show me what he can make that crazy little car do, then had me try again.

Started in Lion's Park. I put it in gear to get on my way and decided I needed to retie my shoe. Dummy, left it in gear and killed it. It was like a combination of Top Gear and Mystery Science Theater by then. The comments from Dillon and Colt ran unchecked. Mostly about me stalling out in a dark and creepy park with no one around for miles to hear our screams because we get abducted since I couldn't pull out of a parking space in time to save our lives. Much thanks all around. Then I reached over with my right foot to find the clutch to let it out of gear and invoked the only warning tone Dillon has ever had where he instantly and assuredly explained to me that the right foot is to not ever touch the clutch peddle. I knew this, but again, I'm lazy and my other foot was tired from me pointlessly holding it over the peddle the entire time.

The rest of the drive was relatively easier. I surprised myself at how quickly I reacted to an unexpected obstacle in the road and handled it smoothly. Dillon had already blurted out that we were going to die. Strange how calmly he accepted the fate. I eventually made it to 31st and took that way home. There wasn't much traffic at all, so I bet he'll make me conquer it again tonight. I was able to get it into sixth and tested the handling a little more so, until Dillon started chanting his 'speeding ticket' song. That little thing cruises so smoothly, I didn't realize how quickly I hit and passed the speed limit.

The down side to all this: the Mini would replace the Jeep. This hurts. I know it's just a car, but it's My Jeep. I've had it for awhile and am quite attached. The gas never bothered me because I live two miles from work. Everyone knows my Jeep. This is mostly a good thing. But, it is only a car and our biggest expense next to the house. It is selfish of me to expect to go to part time and still drive a vehicle with a full-time car payment. The Mini takes premium, but the mileage will make up for that. The insurance should be about the same. Maintenance is maintenance because we (Colt) work on our own cars. He completely disassembled a Porsche and reassembled it and it's still cruising around town. Same deal with the Audis. I think (and hope) he can handle a Mini. If I can get over the loss of my beloved Jeep and deal with a stick everyday, the savings will be just what I need to go to part-time employment and pursue other goals as well. Decisions, decisions.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Proofs

I'm at work. Got an e-mail from CreateSpace telling me that the proofs are ready for my cover concepts. It's so close to lunch I can hardly stand it! Will have to run home and download them. And now the clock ticks super slowly!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Reading

While my book is in the hands of an amazing editor, I've taken a bit of a break from writing to do some reading. I had trouble settling down with a book. I guess I've gotten picky in my reading. I don't like cursing or sex or violence in what I read. I think it's because I follow the story so closely and am uncomfortable with being around any of that. There were plenty of good stories that I've started but couldn't get past the smaller details that honestly didn't need to be in there. Until I picked up the Class Collision series. Two books. Part one Fall From Grace, the second is Phoenix Rising. They are by Annette Mackey.

I picked up Fall From Grace only because it was $.99 on Kindle. I don't base my reading choices solely on their descriptions and reviews anymore because I don't always agree with them. There were mainly good reviews though. It was hard to get into it at first. It starts out building the character, David, and he actually a bit of a pest. Which is what the writer was getting at. It is set in the time of the Great Depression. David is from a very wealthy family and he is totally spoiled and rude. His family is adorable, but he himself is a pill. He and his brother, Alex, are kidnapped for ransom. Alex manages to escape but David is left for dead by the kidnappers and ends up lost to the world. It follows his story as he slowly realizes the world isn't as kind as he had thought back at home. He goes through some awful things and grows into a very insecure and completely walled off young man. The story turns when he meets Linda as he works a ranch in Wyoming.

Book two, Phoenix Rising, picks up as David and Linda start a new life on the run. They both have ghosts from their pasts that they carry with them and secretly struggle with. Linda was annoying at first, but she becomes a stronger character. David is determined to protect her from everything he lived through and all she wants to know is what has him so removed. Their relationship is up and down and believable. They are both adorable in the second book. David wants to see his real family again, but is ashamed of how 'simple' a person he is. He goes back to school at Washington University while working for Boeing. World War II starts and throws his life off kilter again. He does well at first, then his old ghosts combine with new scars and he is a mess once again. All that he does and goes through to get his world back on its axis is heartening. I loved his and Linda's self discoveries along the way and they grow even more admirable. There was some more difficult reading in it when the details of the war came into focus for several chapters, but seeing it from David's point of view was how it needed to be done.

The books bounce around with the point of views, and that usually bugs the tar out of me. I like books to follow one mind, makes it easier sympathies with the main character. It is also that I've picked up with my "how to write" studies. POV's are a touchy subject for me. The first manuscript I wrote, before any classes or studying, was from multiple POV's. I didn't realize how distracting it was until it was pointed out, so now the head-hopping gets me. It got me at first with these books, but I got over it. The story was too sincere. I don't always recommend books because I know everyone has their niche, but this is one I would suggest. David's struggles and Linda's side are both relatable and easy to feel for. This is one I wished I bought in physical book form so I could pass them on. Would definitely read them again.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Solo

I had a call from CreateSpace this morning. Time for the cover to take form. I was pretty nervous about this part because I honestly have no idea where to begin. The lady in charge of the design team sounded like she already has it all under control. I let her know of a few ideas and different covers I've noticed lately. She said that she has an artist in mind to make a design with the city of Chicago as the main focus, which sounded fun to me. The second concept will be done by another artist and will stand in as more of a wild card choice. We joked a little about traveling since I mentioned that I've never been to Chicago, but found lots of stuff I would love to see there during my research for the book. She had been there before and highly recommended I go visit asap. I'm going to have to go one day, it sounds like an amazing place. The Amtrak comes through town here and goes up to Chicago and on, but that might be too long of a ride for me. But then again, the art museums are probably worth a long train ride. Anyway, so I got off the phone with them all psyched about the whole thing and was once again totally on my own. No one was home to jump around with or witness my silly giggling, and no one answered their phone for me to gush to. Probably for the better. The cat stared at me until I finished a fed him, then he couldn't care less what I was doing. Such a cat.

Then I went to work and managed to soak my computer in malware. That was not fun. I shut it off and called Colt. If I wasn't married to a computer tech, today's mishap would have cost at least $120. Oops. I got the lecture about worthless websites and 'friends' on facebook and how I was asking for malware to infect the pc. Saw that one coming. But it's all better now. Will have to rebuild my profile at work since it ended up getting wiped out. Hubby/pc tech got Taco Cabana for dinner and I got the evidence of my poor computer skills erased.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Dates & Numbers

Long week, and it isn't over yet. Two appointments tomorrow morning. I thought one would be unbearable and had the privilege of adding the second. Should have shut up when it was just one. Then I need to get my CE credits. I always put it off too long and regret it. I'll be sitting by the phone all afternoon so I might as well do something productive. Gotta keep the day job and that means gotta keep the licence. Shouldn't complain, that too could be worse. Anywho, I'll be waiting by the phone 'cause CreateSpace is supposed to call about the cover for Where to Belong. I finished my part (cover wise) and now am at their mercy. It's honestly almost as scary as waiting for the reviews to trickle back. And I still haven't gotten in touch with my editor so I might do a drive by tomorrow night and vault the huge binder into his front yard. Is that too brash? He's great. He'd probably laugh and return the favor. And the whole deal with the ISBN ... me over complicating the issue. That's what happens when I try to make big decisions on four hours of sleep. The one assigned is for the paperback copies. The e-book copies get their own according to format. That means I'll have two through Amazon. B&N will give it their own version of an ISBN, but for their internal records only. Smashwords will give it one for the iBook store, the rest kind of do the same as B&N. Now can I sleep? Probably not.

Getting into the habit of looking at the rest of the year as a whole. I don't like doing that, but time is getting away from me. There aren't enough hours in the day (or night). The weeks fly by even when it feels like they are dragging. I can't believe it's already mid April. Seriously doubting that I'll be able to get the book into that festival I wanted to. That's a bummer. I know there's always next year, but I hate depending on that. June is a big month. Lots happening. Not necessarily for me, but lots of stuff I have to support. July and August are always rushed, September has it's own filling schedule. October is still looking good. November is already a disaster. November is when I'm planning to sign back up for NaNoWriMo. There is something going on with the family I can't remember at the moment, but I'm sure I'll be reminded at a bad time. So I have 30 days to write the sequel to Where to Belong. I don't have the plot fully planned, but good enough to start with. It'll come together (I hope) like last time. So, 50k words (at least) in 30 days. There is also two books due to release that month in series I've been following and aching for the finales. Eragon is one, titled Inheritance. My mother-in-law is also a reader of that series and I've made her promise not to breathe a word of the story to me during that month. It will tear her up. We always have a day after we chew through a book and sit and rattle on about the whole thing. The second book will be harder to put off. The Iron Knight, book four in the Iron Fey series. That will be a punch in the gut. There is a novella coming out in June (yep, another June thing) that will have to hold me over. I think I'll order the books and have them on my bookshelf so if I magically reach 50k in less than 30 days, I can dive in and enjoy them. Planning on taking 3 days or a week off to ensure I reach the deadline. Don't know what to put on the line for reason of time off. I still haven't told my co-workers that I'm writing. I feel like I have two, maybe three lives going. Maybe that's why I'm not sleeping. It's exhausting. Priorities are always screaming for attention. This assistant needs an assistant.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Surprises

Today was not nearly as bad as I expected it to be. That tardy case showed up magically after lunch. No one could explain why it was so late, and that's ok, I just thought that it was funny. We were told insured cases have a 21 day delay. That means I could have driven to SD, picked it up, and driven back to the office in a shorter amount of time than it was insured for. I can almost guarantee we that we go back to our proven way of shipping.

I also think I quite possibly set a record for the fastest FMX all by my lonesome. I even paused in the middle to snap a periapical film on a rather chatty patient in the next room. All these turned out fully diagnostic following what was the worst week of cone-cutting in my career as a dental assistant. I'm sure it's because I said I'd never take another FMX again, and we were about twenty minutes behind. Again thinking I work best under pressure. But I hate pressure. And all this with maybe four hours of sleep. Oh how I'd love to get a full night's rest!

Anyway, the surprise was when I got home. I went to the mail box in hopes of getting the next NetFlix, He's Just Not That Into You. We have one of those community lock box type deals. They remind me of mini post offices on each block. When I first opened our box I had to wonder what we've done to tick off the mailman. He's a nice guy, from what I can tell in our brief meetings, but Colt and he have a way of getting at each other. I blame Colt. He called the postoffice last time the guy put a package in the box that Colt couldn't get out. The side the mailman opens is just a little bit wider than our side, and our side has the hinges and lip of the enclosure to get in the way. I thought it was funny. Square peg round hole or round peg square hole, whichever. This time the box was stuffed with three of those yellow bubble wrap-lined envelopes along with regular mail stuff wedged into it. I managed to locate the NetFlix and pull it to safety (yey). First fat envelope was a phone case and charger I ordered. (that's another story, but even more boring) Second was a catalog Colt ordered. The third made me think a little more. And when I got it out, the logo on the mailing label caught my eye. Holt Publishing. I know that name. I haven't sent my manuscript to them, but I have sent it to people who voiced interest in passing it on. Could I have a publishing house!?! I hopped in the Jeep and went to the house. I did the good neighbor thing and brought our dumpster in from the curb before disappearing into the house. And what is it with Scooter desperately screaming to be fed when I'm excited and in a hurry? Fed cat, ran upstairs to the only pair of scissors I know are in a regular place. Plop down at my desk and carefully open the envelope. (Keeping excitement as contained as possible). A book. But not mine. Aw-shucks. It was a book I won from one of the book blogs I follow. I had totally forgotten. So I got excited again. Can't wait to read it. Mom called dibs on it once I'm finished. Moral of the story: I think I will send the manuscript around to a few houses and see what happens. Still going with the plan of self-pubbing and e-format, for now. But that was kind of fun. Just curious...

Making progress on the next manuscript project. This one is weird to me. I like it, have it plotted out, but am taking a different approach. We'll see.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Fine Print

It's been a bit of a long week. While I was so ready for the weekend, I know it will be too short. I've stayed too busy lately. Work has been off and on, but really busy when it was on. It was my Friday to work. I ended up staying longer than planned because of a package that didn't come. Checked earlier today and it still wasn't there. This means Monday will be hectic and grumpy. It should have been here Thursday. All I can say is that when you have a system that works, don't change it, especially when you HAVE to have something at a certain time. Experiment with less time sensitive materials. Odds are, it will work out just fine, but it's irritating until then.

Old issues I thought was once settled reared an ugly head this week as well. I didn't see that coming. Total blind side and I think it showed. I think I kept my cool well enough, but I also didn't do much to the help problem. Kind of ignored it. I thought to throw myself on the ground and cry like the helpless person I was accused of being, by figured that would only frustrate the situation. Then almost laughed at how funny it would be in hind sight, then decided that would be the wrong thing to do. So I let the rant run its course. And it did. I think it was only a rant. We all have bad days. If it wasn't a rant, I have no idea where to start to correct all that was thrown at me. And I hate leaving things undone. I have to fix everything and fix it right the first time. No quick fixes or patch work. I'm an all or nothing kind of person. Thus I think the rant was instigated by my unwillingness to believe there was a problem in the first place. It was fixed. Someone missed the memo.

With all the excitement, I decided to resort back to my usual hide-a-way. Yep, writing. Weird how much I accomplished there. Beginning to think I work best under pressure, as much as I squirm under pressure. Finished the revision. Printed it and am working to find a good time to pay another visit to my editor. Don't know if I should bother him over the weekend. Still debating. Will probably just send an email to let him know it's ready. I checked back with CreateSpace to start the cover and interior stuff. Read the fine print. Slammed on the brakes. It was my understanding that if I go with them, I am still free to take it elsewhere for distribution at the same time. The fine print hinted at hold ups in the sharing department. So I've spent much of this afternoon looking into getting my own ISBN for the book, checked a little more into Smashwords, and researched what other self pubbers have done. I thought this too was all settled. Stuff changes everyday and it's been a bit of a pill to keep up with it all. Learn something new everyday, even when you don't mean to. Tired of learning. I just want to put this out there and see if anyone likes it. Is that asking so much?

I also noticed I haven't even said what the book was about. Silly me. Here I am ranting and raving about it, and it's completely unidentified to anyone who might be following this. Along with being a chicken, a baby, and a whiner, I'm also scatter brained. I'll work on that. I'm trying to put together a sample reading for the blog. Thinking the first two chapters and some fun stuff I discovered while researching for the story. Oh, and the mystery genre was totally shot down by my eval people. They said it was general or literary fiction. Left it up to me to pick which one. Having trouble seeing a difference. I'm thinking literary.

Watched the new tron movie. Not what I thought it would be. Not bad. Loads of music I've been downloading lately. iTunes is making a pretty penny off me this week. Between Adele and a few others, I should be stocked up for awhile. Taylor Swift isn't my usual choice, but Back to December rang true to one of the chapters in my book, so I bought it. Adele's Set Fire to the Rain also fit in a different chapter, while Someone Like You went with my new novel project. Yep, a few of my characters have some relationship issues. Some handle them better than others. But that's what makes it a story, and hopefully keeps it interesting. It isn't the focus, but another thorn to dislodge. Many many more songs fit into the playlist. Working on making a soundtrack for the novel. Thought that might be fun. Don't know how to go about doing that though, legal wise and all.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Nothing Box

If you have ever seen the skit about the "nothing box", you know what I'm talking about. If not, youtube it, I'm sure it's easy to find. Anyway, I found mine this weekend. I actually did absolutely nothing (for a short time) and loved it. There's a difference between doing nothing, and actually doing nothing. I had no plans, no schedule, no nagging voices for a few relaxing moments and am looking for my next "nothing" time. Colt has always had a nothing box and it would drive me nuts. I couldn't stand or understand how he could just be, not think or plot or plan, but just sit. Hence, nothing box. It isn't bad. If one would do it all the time, that would be a shame. But to every now and again retreat to the quiet of nothing is refreshing. Promptly following my short time out, I did all the laundry, cleaned one bathroom, vacuumed upstairs and down, cleaned the kitchen, dusted, and even cleaned the ceiling fans.

So close to being finished with the rewrite it hurts. I should be doing it right now, but I have a few things I told myself I would do first because once I start, I don't stop until I face-plant into my keyboard. I have some reading to do and studying, among other things. One thing that set me back was I had to write out a storyline that came to mind about 3am Sunday morning. I don't know where it came from or if I will ever get around to fleshing it out, but it was definitely a new idea for me. I have it nearly drawn out in the sketchpad and I think I'll be able to get back to my usual writing once I put the closing thoughts into it. So for those of you counting, that is story number 5. Story one has 3 parts, story two is on its own, story three is my current manuscript and I have ideas to make it a 3 part one as well, story four is my weakest and it isn't entirely sketched out, and now my newest. I think it's safe to say this is never ending.

Got yet another book in this week as well. I won't read it for a little while. I have five books ahead of it. Eventually. It is at least shorter than the others, so I could probably read it in a day. Watched Tangled this weekend. Loved it. I watched it with Colt and had to rewatch it after he left. Every time Rapunzel would do something, Colt would laugh out that it was just like me. When she would talk to herself and have her self battles and how she would spaz one moment and then turn around and be all cheery again and the way she reacted to EVERYTHING was all me according to Colt. He wasn't too far off on a few points, but I would like to think I'm not as dense as she was. Anyway, cute movie. Not really what I expected. And we totally got a late fee coming on that one. Wanted Bluray and was impatient for Netflix, and I'm at odds with redbox at the moment, so we got it from the one rental store left in town. Had to pay an already owed late fee to get the movie, then we both forgot to take it back. Could have bought it by what we've spent to rent it. And the kicker, it is now in the mailbox from netflix. I need to work on my patience. Still haven't seen the new Tron movie. Colt has plans with a friend to go tonight to the midnight release. I plan to be in bed by then. Busy all week so I probably won't watch it till this weekend, so why the big deal with the midnight release? Maybe I'm getting old.

Speaking of midnight outings, I'll end this post with last night's adventure:
We went to HEB to get groceries. There is a display at the front door of tulips for sale. Bunches and bunches of full, colorful, beautiful tulips. In the middle of the mass is one lonely beat down looking yellow tulip.
Me: Aw... I want a tulip! (picks up sad yellow tulip)
Colt: Ok. But why that one? It's ugly. Get a different one.
Me: No. I want this one. I guess I have a thing for the rejects.
Colt: (bows head and frowns) oh.