Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Writing Wednesday--I Have Failed

Yes. That's right. I got NOWHERE near close to the 50K required for NaNoWri. Why? A few reasons--or excuses, depends on how you look at them.

One, I'm doing my best to get through the editing on Shades of Desire. If you've read this blog for any amount of time, you've read about my total hatred for editing. Actually, just for editing SoG and SoD, because they're very wordy, very full of character's internal thoughts, which I've been told is not the way to go. I'm working with a new editor, one who manages to get the job done without making me feel like an idiot, so who knows, maybe I'll stop hating the editing process at some point. But I doubt it.

Two, I got distracted by a project. I'm sorry, I've just got too much shit going on in my head to not write some of it down. I really, really, really want to focus all my energy on this, because I've got a deep gut feeling it'll be big. But I've got people asking for the next Jude, for the next Cari, even the next Frankie, so I can't devote all my time to this amazing idea. Instead, I'm going to spend 2012 putting out 2-3 Jude books, 1-2 Cari books, and 1-2 Frankie books.

Why am I going to kill myself with work? Because I plan to release an entire series in 2013. Yes, I'm assuming people will still want to read what I write in 2 years. Either I'm ballsy or psychic, I don't know which, but either way, I'm going for it. What this actually means is I'll be writing roughly a dozen books, if not more, in less than 24 months. This is like NaNoWri on cocaine. Or meth. I'm not sure which one keeps you up and going longer.

So, yes, I failed NaNoWri. But I'm coming away with a better sense of what I need to accomplish, and with an idea of how to accomplish it.

Now--back to editing. Damn it.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Tuesday Buildup!--Shades of Desire Excerpt

Ah, that time of week again. To those who care, I had a very long Thanksgiving week/weekend. Profitable, but long. And my poor body is feeling it. Ugh.

Moving on--this bit below introduces, and reintroduces some characters, as well as throws the first monkey wrench into the works. Question: if it was any other kind of wrench, would there still be the same problems? Something to ponder.

I know, I know, I promised vampires and history and all sorts of stuff. But I'm deep in editing hell, and the sooner I get through it, the sooner you all get Shades of Desire. So, next week, cross my heart, hope to die, stick a needle in my eye, I WILL share some spooky vampire info with you. For now, enjoy a bit of Jude and the gang.

Detective Duprees turned as I opened the door to the informal parlor, no doubt alerted by the slight groan of the hinges. “Ms. Henries?”
“Detective Duprees, right?” I crossed the room to shake his outstretched hand, not surprised to feel calluses. He had the look of someone who spent a lot of time being active even if he wore a jacket and tie now. His dark blond hair looked in need of a cut, his skin a light tan color speaking more to heritage than the sun.
What caught me were his eyes. A brilliant shade of blue, they reminded me of the blue and white china in one of the hundred and one cabinets of the Crossroads. Full of intelligence and directness, you knew right away he took his job seriously.
The bad guys were so in trouble.
“Yes, Ms. Henries. Your assistant no doubt told you why I’m here.” He scanned the assembly at my back before turning his gaze back to me. “I wasn’t aware you’d be bringing a crowd with you.”
I lifted an eyebrow, amused. Gesturing to a seat, I settled into the sofa, left space for Theo on one side and Celia on the other. On our way downstairs, Celia popped out of her bedroom and announced she was ready to go. In the interest of timeliness, nobody argued.
“Introductions, then, before we continue. Theo Rossiere, my….” Well, hell. Boyfriend seemed so juvenile, baby daddy way too ghetto. “My Theo.” I caught his grin out of the corner of my eye. Guess he didn’t mind his title.
“Celia and Elizabeth Malley. Rian Flannery. And you’ve already met Lies.” Now that I thought about it, I didn’t even know if Lies had a last name. Something to find out later. “Now, Detective. Perhaps you’d care to tell me something about Deiadre.”
 “Like I said, your assistant has probably told you why I’m here. Ms. McKee was murdered sometime last night. Her personal information said to contact you in case of an emergency.” Those eyes were hyper focused on me now. I wanted to squirm slightly, even though I knew I was in the clear on this. “Not her parents or any other family. But you.”
“Deiadre didn’t have any other family. Her parents died a few years back in a plane crash over the Atlantic.” Good thing Elizabeth had a memory for family trees. Although how serious Detective Duprees would take her when she looked like a tart I didn’t know. “Most of the people of the Covenant who don’t have any family have Ms. Henries listed as emergency contact.”
“The Covenant.” It wasn’t a question, but a statement. “In that case, are you, Ms. Henries, the leader of the Covenant?”
The surprise must have been evident on my face because Duprees continued hastily. “I don’t believe I fully introduced myself. I’m your New Orleans Police Department liaison. Any potential criminal issues you’re involved in, I handle.”
“You’re not the same person I saw at the reading of Gillian’s will.”
“Detective Neasterly was only a few months away from retirement. I’d been his partner for the past two years, so when he took early retirement, the department offered me the position.” Duprees smiled, a touch of humor in the gesture. “Actually, the higher ups begged me. They didn’t want to go through the trouble of explaining everything to someone else.”
“Understandable.” And really, it was. It took me more than a few minutes to wrap my mind around the existence of the Covenant, let alone the extent of how huge it was. I couldn’t begin to imagine how a nice, normal person would take the idea of throwing fire and producing gusts of wind with a thought.
“With all that being said, yes, I’m the leader of the Covenant. Now, can you tell me anything about Deiadre’s death?” If he gave me the crap line about early hours of the investigation and so on, I’d have to seriously control my temper. I didn’t like cryptic when things actually were kind of crypticy. Cryptic when it involved people dying really pushed my buttons.
“She was found in St. Louis No.1 by a group of tourists, earlier this morning.”
“She didn’t go there willingly.” Every head in the room turned in Rian’s direction. “Deiadre hated the cemetery. She wouldn’t have gone there at night for any reason, I guarantee it.”
Duprees looked like he wanted to ask a question or two, but decided against it. If he’d spent any time with the Covenant, he probably knew random statements weren’t really random. “That’s the same conclusion that we reached, Mr. Flannery. The cemetery was merely the dump site, which leaves us with more than a few problems.”
“Such as?” Theo’s hand tightened ever so subtly around my shoulders, his heat bumping up a notch.
“Well, the first would be why Deiadre. The second would be why the cemetery. But the big one would be why she was completely exsanguinated.”
Even the high school drop-out knew what that meant. “Not a drop of blood left in her?”
Duprees’ eyes stayed steady on mine. “Not one.”
Well, hell. “I think you should take us to the cemetery.”

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Writing Wednesday!

Well, this week I've written a lot of e-mail. And I've written blog posts. That counts, right?

I've also done some editing, which is great. I've got the release date set for Shades of Desire--mark your calenders for February 7! As usual, I'll be going on tour, probably mid-March when I get back from a well earned vacation.

In other news, the Jude Magdalyn short, Hole in the Wall is now FREE on Amazon! To keep Shades of Gray at it's super-low price, help me let Amazon know about a lower price at Barnesandnoble.com.

That's it for now, folks!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Tuesday Buildup!--Interview with Jude Magdalyn

Yeah, still haven't worked out a better title for this series of Tuesday features. But, I do have something better than usual for our Tuesday get-together: an interview with Jude Magdalyn, our narrator/main character of Shades of Gray (out now), and the upcoming re-release, Shades of Desire. I manged to get Jude to sit down for a little girl chat.

Thanks for taking the time to meet with me, Jude. I know you're pretty swamped with the holidays.

Swamped does not begin to cover it. I've got people running in and out of the Crossroads, couples canoodling, society activites... it almost makes me nostalgic for the days when it was just me, or just me and Izzy.

Does it bother you, thinking about Izzy? It hasn't been that long since....

She was murdered by Hart? You can say it--after all, it's only the truth. To answer your question, yeah, it bothers me to think about her or talk about her. Izzy was my friend. For a long time she was my only friend. And Hart took her from me, not because she was a threat to him, but just to be petty and vicious. To some extent, I blame myself for that, for her dying, which is why I haven't talked to her family. I don't do guilt well, or grief for that matter, so I just... ignore it. Maybe it's not the healthiest way to deal, but it works for me.

Understandable. I'm sorry if I've upset you with the question.

No worries. If I got upset every time someone asked me a hard question, I'd be in a state of constant panic.

*Laughter* Moving on. The next chapter in your life--your biography, if you will--takes place a few months after the events in Shades of Gray. Care to give us a few hints?

First, let me say how weird it is to think of someone writing a biography of my life. But then again, my life itself is weird, so, hey--just going with the flow. Anyway, the week or so around Halloween, some vampire pretty much goes ape shit crazy, and Williams and his vampires, myself and the Covenant, and our new police liason have to pick up the pieces. Joy.

A new police liason? Do tell.

Well, it's not that exciting. He--Detective Rhett Duprees, NOPD--is there to sort of keep any Covenant related police activity as under the radar as possible. From what I understand, he was the partner of the previous guy and just kind of slid into the job. He's holding up pretty good so far, although he's a little stiff under the collar yet. I give it a few months before he's chill with us.

Speaking of the Covenant at large, what's going on with some of our favorite people?

 Uh, they're driving me crazy. Ok, not entirely, but they're giving it their best shot. Celia is, well, Celia is your normal totally precocious five year old who can send people to the future. We're working on her not doing it so much, but it's tough going. Elizabeth and Rian... there's not nearly enough time to go into the mess of those two.

Williams?

We're working at getting along, for a variety of reasons. It's a lot of work.

There's another area people have a lot of questions about. You did a pretty rapid turn-around there, going from Williams to Theo.

I don't think it was a turnaround at all. Look, from the get-go I was attracted to both of them, on a physical level. I got to know them both more, on a personal level. I made a choice. Did Williams knowing about my family, knowing what his brother did to my family, play into the choice? Yeah, it did. But if there's anyone out there who wouldn't feel a sense of betrayal amount being kept in the dark about something so huge, well, they're a much better person than me.

Obviously, I've touched on a sensitive subject.

Yeah, you did. I'm sure there are people out in the world who constantly have to defend their romantic choices, and they manage to not be angry and hormonal about it. I'm not one of them. Bite me.

Speaking of hormones, how's the baby baking going?

It's going. I swear, there are days I feel like I've thrown up every bite of food I've ever eaten. And coffee. God, do I miss coffee.

*Laughs* You know, they say it gets better after the first three months.

So I've heard. Remind me to shoot "they" if I ever find them.

Thanks for taking the time to be here today, Jude.

That's it, folks! As you can see, she's still as cantankerous as ever. I'd lay odds on that baby coming out spouting sarcasm. Check back next week to get a little more background on the legend behind the inspiration for Shades of Desire!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Media Monday--I Think I'm Gonna Scream...

Yeah, I've been watching horror movies again. Since I've seen them all so many times, at least the ones in my collection, I'm not really in danger of screaming. Granted, there are still scenes in some of them that I can't watch, such as the crazy dream sequence in House on Haunted Hill, but for the most part I've become immune to the blood and guts and gore.

I like to think of these movies as background noise, to some extent, and then sometimes they're a great mood setter. If I've got to write a murder or a suspense scene or something along those lines, I throw on, say Prom Night--the reboot--usually with the commentary, and get to work. Need a little supernatural influence? I turn to The Unborn or Ghost Ship, both of which deal nicely, at least in my opinion, with the idea of souls, one with a nod to Greek mythology/Heaven and Hell, the other with a firm base in Jewish mysticism. Looking to tap into the craziness of the mind? I've got The Uninvited and The Alphabet Killer. More movies involving souls, reincarnation? How about The Grudge, The Return, The Eye? I'd keep going, but the movies start becoming a little uncatagorizable

Some people like to think of horror movies as the lowest common denominator of film, right down there with spoof flicks. I've already discussed my love of the spoof and why I think it's actually something insanely hard to pull off. To me, horror flicks are in the same vein. There are certain things that pop up in lots of horror movies, that are almost expected to show up--the bad guy behind the heroine in the bathroom mirror, the gratuitous shower/sex scene, the best friend who dies. The reason such scenes are there is because it's something we can all connect to or have a fear or to a certain extent. We're all scared of death, or of being attacked in our homes, we all understand the vulnerability being naked carries. They work because they speak to the similarities in each of us, something a drama or romance may not be able to do.

So, give me a good--or bad--horror flick any day of the week. I could always use the inspiration.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Food Friday--We're Making Gumbo!

Ok, to get super technical, it's more like Lumbo--that's to say it's Lois's version of Gumbo. The biggest differences you'll find between what I'm about to post and more traditional gumbo is a lack of celery and okra, and the inclusion of green beans and corn. Those are the vegetables I like and dislike. That's the beauty of gumbo--you can kind of adjust to suit your own personal tastes

Let's begin!

4-6 tomatoes on the vine
1 large white onion
1 large green pepper
1/2 pound fresh green beans, snapped 
1 can white and yellow corn nibblets
1/2 pack Andouille Sausage (I know they sell a variety at Publix--you can go for the straight Andouille, or spice it up with one of the flavor varieties)
1/2 pound boneless, skinless chicken tenders
2 boxes chicken broth (I tend to use Swanson, but to each their own)
Garlic butter (Land o'Lakes sells it in a small tub--you'll use about half of it)
Cajun Seasoning (Tony Catchotoree is both common and good)

Dice the tomatoes as finely as possible--bascially, just don't have any large chunks. Throw them in a large boiler (really large) with about a tablespoon or so of the garlic butter and about a half cup of chicken broth (roughly a quarter of one box of broth). Cook on medium until tomatoes have essentially boiled down to juice.

While that's happening, slice and dice the green peppers and onions. (Hopefully you know to throw the seeds away--if not, you do know). Throw them in a sauce/saute pan with another tablespoon of the garlic butter and cook them until tender, usually about 5-10 minutes. When they're tender, simply dump them into the boiler with the tomatoes.  Add the green beans and corn and the remaining broth in the open box, and start seasoning. This part's a little tricky--there's no definite amount you need to use, it's all up to you and your ability to handle spice. I usually start with about a quarter of the container (yes, that much) and work from there. Cover and let simmer.

In your handy-dandy pan, melt 3-4 tablespoons garlic butter. (I told you we'd be using a lot). Dice the chicken and andouille sausage and throw in the pan. Cook until done or until really, really done--I like my chicken blackened. For extra kick, add a good shake or two of cajun seasoning.When you've got the meat cooked to your satisfaction, dump it into the boiler. Cover and simmer.

If you've been keeping up with the food portion of this blog, you'll know how to make a roux. Again, the color of the roux will depend on your personal tastes--I tend to use a dark roux for a strong flavor. Once you have the roux, dump it into the boiler. Add the remaining broth, which at this point should be about half a box, and give a taste. If it's spicy enough, leave well enough alone. If not, keep adding spice until your tastebuds are singing. Turn the heat down to low and let simmer for an hour or so, until the flavor is in there pretty good.

Now, most people will serve gumbo over rice. I do about half the time; the other half I just eat as-is. Hey, there's a lot going on in that pot.

Next week, in honor of Thanksgiving, I'll share my version of pumpkin pie. Or maybe sweet potato. Either way, we're doing pie next week. Woohoo for pie!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Random Thursday!

First bit of randomness: the restaurant across the street from the restaurant where I work got robbed last night. Robbed as in all the employees got shoved in the cooler for like 4 hours robbed. Crazy, right? That's all we manage to keep saying here. Well, that and the prediction that the holiday season will be a new level of nuts this year if this type of crazy is starting already.

Second bit of randomness: I got stood up last night. Yes, I'm perfectly willing to admit/whine about it. Even worse? I had the sneaking suspicion it would happen. Because after three years of severe off and on quasi-relationship with this person, I have a pretty good idea how he works. Even worse than that? I was--still am--more annoyed with myself than with him. Because even if he can't do better, by this point I should be doing better. Self actualization is one of the crappiest parts of being an adult.

Third bit of randomness: I'm booking my flight for New York by the end of the month. To say I'm excited is an understatement. I've never flown before and I've never been to New York, so I'm going to be such a tourist--but by no means do I intend to look like one. More details on that as the date approaches.

And now, I'm off to work--meaning edit, edit, edit, and maybe write. Woohoo!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Writing Wednesday--NaNoWri Update

Sadly, there is nothing new to report. I've been focusing on editing Shades of Desire, which, if you know me, you know I loathe. Not as much as I loathe formatting, which is sort of my own version of hell, all nine levels of it, but editing is not something I love by any means. I'm roughly halfway through the edits, with two weeks to go before I ship them off to my lovely editor. Which means two weeks of beating my head against walls and desks and whatnot. Joy.

As far as Harvest Moon Rising, I'm still kind of feeling my way through. There's going to be a lot of personal dynamic interplay, not just between Mike and Cari, but between Cari and a variety of other people, both new and old. Something that was repeated quite a bit in New Moon Rising was the idea that knowing just one thing changes everything--yet, overall, there really wasn't a lot of change, not for Selene or Mike or Cari. Harvest Moon Rising? TONS of change. Some of it will be for the good, some of it not, and some we won't see the repercussions for right away.

So, no new writing. But plenty of writing stuff. I'll count the week a win, although by NaNoWri standards I'm failing horribly. But I'm doing it with a smile on my face!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Tuesday Buildup!

Yeah, the title sucks. You'll need to give me time to work that part out. Anyway, there are approximately 10 weeks until the re-release of Shades of Desire. Provided I don't lose my mind, this one will be off to the editor by December, a new cover in January, and re-release in February. So, until then, I'll be using Tuesday to pump you guys up, with excerpts and character interviews and whatnot.

Today, we'll kick things off with an excerpt, from, well, the very beginning. I promise, I'll have this figured out by next week. Until then, happy reading!


If Deiadre McKee knew she’d die in the early hours of October 22, she might have let Bryant Phips go all the way on Saturday night.
Then again, maybe not. Deiadre’s reputation was worse than being known as a fast girl.
Deiadre was the good girl.
She’d carefully built her reputation over her teenage years and now at nineteen was one of the Covenant’s most respected youths. She always blushed and demurred when mothers pointed her out. Told their daughters to be more like Deiadre.
Inside, she always giggled. It was ridiculously easy to fool people if you showed them what they wanted to see.
As she made her way up Dumaine and turned left onto Bourbon, she couldn’t help but chuckle. Dinner at the Crossroads had been exceptionally entertaining, even if it failed to live up to the hype surrounding the weekly gathering. Deiadre was still convinced these dinners were rooted in Jude’s desire to learn who held power in the Covenant. She’d patiently waited for her invitation. After all, she was the most powerful vodoun in the Covenant.
Nobody knew her true level of power, of course-she’d underplayed her power for years. She’d be surprised if anybody had even a clue about the strength of her magic, even Jude, despite the strange looks she’d given Diadre over the course of the evening. But the looks might have been in shock at her manners. Or approval at her attire-Sunday dinner clothes and not the same trash Lies wore.
The cupid bow of her mouth quirked up at the edges and she chuckled again, shook her head, peach colored curls bouncing around her face. Her eyes were doe brown, big and innocent, and she’d batted her lashes at Samuel over the course of dinner. Not out of any interest in him but because doing so obviously annoyed Lies. A task she hadn’t accomplished in regards to Elizabeth.
Deiadre winced as she passed the Cat’s Meow, somebody on stage butchering the hell out of Celine Dion. Her little smile slid into a pout and she crossed her arms over her chest, annoyed all over again. None of her flirtations with Jackson raised even an eyebrow from Elizabeth. She could have given Jackson a lap dance-like she’d do something so disgusting-and Elizabeth wouldn’t have blinked an eye. Only Margot’s appearance next to Rian had caused any reaction at all—and both Jude and Theo simply shook their heads at the exploding pot in the corner.
Deiadre shivered with both delight and disgust. Disgust, because, seriously, Rian? He might have fooled the rest of the Covenant, but not her-once a druggie, always a druggie. Her mouth smoothed out to a prissy line. What Elizabeth saw in him, she had no idea.
But Theo. Theo was some kind of gorgeous. Too bad Jude nabbed him, although they did make a cute couple. Deiadre had been pulling on her coat when she’d caught something out of the corner of her eye. Peering into the shadows, she’d saw Jude and Theo making out like a couple of teenagers. Her exaggerated cough had them pulling apart, but not apologizing.
Jude simply smiled and thanked her for coming while Theo held the door for her on her way out. When she’d turned around to wave one final time, they’d been standing in the door, Jude pressing one hand to her belly where the tiniest of bumps showed. The flash of jealousy died when she remembered child birth meant lots of pain.
She stepped into the center of Bourbon, hugged her jacket tight around her as she drew closer to Conti. Her frown thinned her lips, made her soft features harsh. She hated this part of Bourbon but it was the safest route back home. As long as she stayed in the street, she wouldn’t have to worry about any of the bouncers for the so-called gentlemen’s clubs trying to pull her in.
She turned onto Conti, the noise dropping almost immediately. Only four more blocks and she’d be home in the little house her parents bought her before flying off to Paris. Or Rome. Deiadre’s features smoothed out in puzzlement as she tried to recall just where they’d flown off to, although it didn’t matter. They’d flown off constantly and then one time they didn’t come back. Her au pair at the time stayed for a few more months until she turned eighteen before leaving as well.
Not that she needed adult supervision. She’d spent her first summer alone taking classes at Loyola, aced the next two semesters. More summer school, and she was already in her junior year. Nothing compared to how far she’d advanced in her voodoo and…other magics.
Three more blocks. She tugged her jacket tighter, some of the October cold seeping in through the fabric. New Orleans didn’t get too cold this time of year but the air had a bite. She paused for a moment to button up, keep some of the warmth in.
And heard footsteps behind her.
Shaking her head, sure she’d imagined the noise, she started walking again. Over the very faint music of Bourbon, the sound came again, the slap of footsteps.
Speeding up, she kept her head down, clenched her keys, slid them between her fingers. One quick jab and then she could run. God, I hope I don’t break a heel. It’s so hard to find kitten heels in my size.
At the last minute, she turned right onto Burgundy, away from her house. Didn’t want to lead the pervert there. The footsteps were closer now. Fear crept in and she risked a peek over her shoulder.
The hooded figure grunted and Deiadre whipped her head around, squealed as she broke into a run. There was a corner market only a few blocks up, always open. She’d duck inside, call the police.
She stopped, confused, when another figure stepped out from around the corner at St. Louis. Turning around, she squealed again when the first figure grabbed her arms, gripped them tight. As the second figure walked closer, her eyes widened, her mouth opening and closing in shock.
“But, but…why? Why?”
His low chuckle made her tremble, knees buckling. “I desire to live forever.”

Monday, November 14, 2011

Media Monday, Part Two--2 Broke Girls Review

Ah, a running review. Been a while since we did one of those. 2 Broke Girls runs at a much faster pace than say, True Blood or The Good Wife, so be prepared for some disjointedness.

It begins! Oh, the birthday singing--something I personally hate as a waitress. Although thank Jesus we don't have to do it at my job, and we definitely don't have anybody who does that crazy thing Caroline just did. Wow, what the hell was that? I'll give it to Beth Behrs, cause that takes brass balls right there.

Oh, the barbs. We get Les Miserables AND Rent references back to back.

And the hot bartender.The drama thickens. The kitchen scenes, totally true to life. Cooks are nuts, girls always have each other's backs. And wow, the bartender is kind of a douche. Feeling bad for Max.

Totally get the rich people/poor people difference between being depressed. Loving Max's coping techniques, i.e., turning to the bottle. Aw, Max is making me super sad. I miss the snark. Where's the snark? Where is it?

Holy shit! The kiss! Preceded by one of the best lines ever--"You're not my type. You're a bartender, you're near bottles all night, and you're not an alcoholic. Clearly, you don't know how to seize an opportunity." "Yes, I do."

I would totally melt if a guy used that on me. Totally melt. Because I'm a sucker.

And now it's the freakout. Wow..."My pants kept saying, take me off! And I was like, No, pants!" I would totally say that. Actually, I'm pretty sure I have said, more than a few times.....

Hipsters everywhere. Ugh. An ice penis? That's a little weird. Actually that's a lot of weird. And Johnny's girlfriend is kind of bitchy. Love the comment about flakiness spreading faster through Williamsburg than knit hats and herpes. And where the wine needed to go--I know my friends and I would absolutely have the wine bottles next to us during a situation like this.

"I can smell the sex from across the room."
 "It's complicated." "What is this, Facebook?"

And I was right, the girlfriend is totally bitchy. Love the Johnny Cash references. And now, we've I Love Lucy references.

Totally loving Caroline's efforts to get Max out of her funk. And her efforts at taking care of her. And Johnny? Yeah, he's hot, but he's also a total douche.

Overall, a great episode. Really wish I could catch all the funny parts as fast as they come, but, well, practice makes perfect.

Media Monday, Part One--What I'm Watching

My plan today is to do a live review of sorts of one of my favorite shows, 2 Broke Girls. However, the show in question doesn't come on until 8:30 this evening. My slightly anal retentive self needs to put something here to fill the blank until the actual post comes up at 9 p.m. tonight.

So, quick rundown of what I'm watching. Which is mostly movies, since my cable has been wacked out and my OnDemand has been REALLY wacked out.

Waiting...
Ghostbusters 1 and 2
30 Days of Night
Dawn of the Dead
Darkness Falls
Not Another Teen Movie

And probably a few more that have slipped my mind. I've been watching a LOT of movies, most of them with commentary on, so it feels like my house is full of people. Because I'm weird like that.

Anyway, my review of 2 Broke Girls will be up later tonight. Fun times!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Food Fri--We Interrupt This Program For an Important Message

Sorry, guys. Next week we'll do gumbo. Promise. But I have a few things to say and until I say them I'm just going to obsess about them.

Have you ever noticed that for all we writers claim to support and nurture each other, we're among the first to point out the flaws in someone else's work? And not in a good, constructive way. No, we tend to rip the offender to pieces, as if we, the reader, have been personally insulted by the offender's efforts. If for whatever reason you have, well, that's another topic entirely. The fact still remains, there is no solidarity in our profession.

Cops, lawyers, doctors--the shields each of these professions throw up to protect their own is legendary, even to the point of illegality. I'm not suggesting writers start doing illegal things in the name of creating a united front (although I'd like you to take a few minutes and imagine what could be done--I'm open to suggestions), but I am suggesting that we stop looking at each other as competitors and start looking at each other as a massive network of mentors and team members.

Now, you may be wondering what set all this off. I'm going to flip THE RULES a big one, and tell you.

Late last year, when I released Shades of Gray for the first time, I did what a lot of new, self-published authors did, and tried to find people to read and review my work. One person I approached did read and review Shades of Gray--they also e-mailed it to various other people (without my permission), and wrote the kind of blistering review that will haunt me until the day I die. Okay, maybe not that long, but to this day I cringe when I think about it.

I can't read it--not because I disagree with this person's opinion. After all, I specifically asked for it. Even more so, the last year has taught me something difficult to admit: I did not release the best work possible. This past year has shown me the weak points in my writing, as well as the strengths, and I can admit that the first released version of Shades of Gray was not at the level it needed to be. I can't read the review because the tone is such that I find it difficult to find the constructive portion, and instead focus only on the glee and mirth my failure brought this person.

Answer me this--if your words are so nasty and spiteful that nothing can be gleaned from them, what have you accomplished? If your goal was to provide constructive criticism, to examine the deficits in a work and provide ways of improving them, then you've failed--all the other author sees is the malice and spite. If your goal was to loft your own personal views on literature, well, you've accomplished quite a bit.

What's worse, at least in my opinion, is that both this review and another in the same tone (from what I understand, written by one of the people who were "gifted" the book) were written by people claiming to be authors/aspiring authors. On the basis of that knowledge alone, I could petition to have those reviews removed, in accordance with the home site's Fair Competition policy. I don't, because I believe they're entitled to their opinion, and to be honest, I don't want to deal with the shit-storm associated with fighting a review. I don't find fault with their opinion--some of the issues mentioned were fixed during edits, others are stylistic and we all know you can't make everyone happy.

I find fault with their tone, with the snide, condescending nature of their remarks. The saying "You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar" comes to mind--if your words are meant to be constructive, coach them in a way that will be received. Note I didn't say received well or happily, just received, because even the most well meaning remarks can upset someone who isn't willing to see the faults in their work. Don't point out every flaw with a huge grin on your face, don't discount the effort put into something, and don't think hiding behind the banner of REVIEWER lends those actions some sort of legitimacy.

We as writers know the power of words. We know how to wield that power. As mentioned in Spider-Man, "With great power comes great responsibility." We, the writing community, whether we're published, unpublished, fiction, non-fiction, whatever, need to step up and be responsible for not just our growth, but the growth of our fellow writers. We need to give as much as we get, something Kristen Lamb does to an incredible degree. We need to stop seeing each other as competition, and start seeing every other writer as a mentor and team member.

Next Week: We're Doing Gumbo! I promise!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Writing Wednesday--NaNoWri Update

As of this moment--which is actually a little behind, because I believe I'm writing after blogging--I'm sitting at a smidegen over 8K on Harvest Moon Rising. Clearly, I have some catching up to do.

Thursday will see me doing at least 3 hours editing on the second Jude re-release, Shades of Desire, so I can ship it off to the editor in December, and have it ready for release in February. The other part of Thursday will see me working on NaNoWri.

Yes. I live an exciting life.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

________Tuesday

Yes, that's a big pile of blank at the top. With the release of Taken, I have no clue what to do on Tuesdays, at least for the moment. Probably by next week I'll have figured something out--I'm crossing my fingers I will, anyway.

So, consider this your break from blogging, as well as mine, and I'll catch everyone on the flipside.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Media Monday--Making Me Cry...

Ah, Monday. A day I both love and hate. Love because I'm off from the salt mine. Hate, because I always end up doing laundry. No matter how hard I try to get laundry done the day before, it never happens. But I digress, as usual.

This weekend I read two books. Shocking, I know. The first, the latest Nora Roberts, was fun, familiar, comforting--all the reasons I read a Roberts book. Well, along with peeks at interesting careers and funny, charming, hot men. I'm always torn between wanting to live in a Roberts world such as New York 2060 and be wooed by someone such as Detective David Baxter, or whether I'd be more at home (or more, ahem, satisfied) in a gritty, harsh environment such as Karen Marie Moning's Dublin with an uber-Alpha male such as Riodian. And yes, I've given this thought. A LOT of thought.

Anyway, the second book I read this weekend was Kathryn Stockett's THE HELP. This book--not comforting at all. Do you have any idea how difficult it is to cry with a sinus infection? I do, because I cried five separate times. Yes, FIVE times. And I'm not feeling in the slightest bit hormonal, so I can't even blame the tears on those pesky things. No, I firmly blame Stockett, because she wrote characters so real, so grounded in reality, I couldn't help but feel for them and with them. If the movie is even halfway as amazing as the book, I'll be bawling, which means I guess it's a good thing I never got to see it in theaters, because I am NOT a pretty crier. I actually get pretty darn red all in the face and eye area (thank you, fair Irish skin).

Because of this, I'm spending the day watching movies that will not make me cry. I mean, it's a little hard to cry when Cameron Diaz is making you laugh your ass off in Bad Teacher. And it's even harder to cry when you're drooling over Vin Disel.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Food Friday--You Start With a Roux...

Now, I know it's been forever since I shared a recipe with you guys. And to be honest, I'm not doing it today. Consider this the precursor to the actual recipe, since you can't make gumbo without a good roux.

There are as many ways to make a roux as there is to make gumbo. Which is to say, there's a ton of them. Depending on the recipe and your own personal tastes, you may end up making a light colored roux or a stronger, dark colored roux. The process is the same for either and for every roux in-between, the only difference is in how long you cook the roux.

Instead of waxing on about the beauty of butter and flour, I'm going to send you to a link. Because I'll be honest, I can't actually tell you how to make a roux. Can I make one? Yes. Can I explain the process. Nope. So, I'm going to let the kind people over at the Food Network (I believe), tell you how to make a roux. Practice it. Study it. For next week, it will be vitally important.

How to Make a Roux

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Random Thursday!

Today's randomness--The fair is in town, the fair is in town!

I'm excited, can you tell?

The North Florida Fair comes to town once a year, always right after Halloween and right around the time it gets cold. Yes, we know when the weather is going to turn based on when the fair is going to be in town. Only in Florida.

Last year, and again this year, a big group of people from work are going. Partly so my younger cousin has someone to go on crazy rides with, mostly because we're all really big kids at heart. My favorite ride? The Tilt-a-Whirl. Seriously, I could ride that thing all night long and be perfectly happy. Least favorite? Anything that goes off the ground. I'm terrified of heights, but I always force myself to go on the Ferris Wheel, simply because I am terrified of heights. It's like I have to prove to myself that I am, in fact, a hardass, and the only way available is to scare myself spitless.

Other things on the list to do today--get started on NaNoWri. Yes, it's only day three and I'm behind. I'd like to blame my sinus infection, but if it didn't keep me from going to the bar and it won't keep me from the fair, then I can't really use it as an excuse. I'm just behind, that's all. A situation I am off to rectify, right this moment!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Writing Wednesday--Plotting vs Pantsing

Ah, the age old debate--plotting vs pantsing. My friends, who are almost all non-writers, hear me throw these terms around and politely pretend like they have a clue what I'm saying. This past Saturday, one of them actually asked me to explain the difference, probably to keep me from going completely insane due to my constant struggle with formatting..

The easiest way to explain the difference: plotters definitely know what's happening, pantsers have a pretty general idea.

I say this because as a pantser myself, and having asked other pantsers, we're a lot more likely to be surprised at how something may or may not play out in the course of writing a book. When I start writing a particular book, I know how I want something to start, how I want it to end, and any super major events between point A and point B. Minor events? There's a good chance I don't have the first clue about them. And there have even been times when something minor has turned into something major and I didn't see it coming until either right before I started writing or in the middle of writing.

Like I said. I have a general idea. Not a specific one.

Plotters? They definitely know what's going to happen. For them, this is probably great. It probably sets their hearts aflutter with joy and their synapses firing at warp speed. You would think I would be a plotter. I plan out everything. Every-damn-thing. I live by schedules. There's a good possibility you could set your watch by me in relation to certain days and times. And yet, I cannot plot, as in write it down and stick to the damn thing to save my life. Well, maybe to save my life, but you know what I mean.

I'm sure psychologists would have a field day with the inherent differences between plotters and pantsers and how being one or the other relates to right or left brain dominance. I'm even more sure that in the long run, being a plotter or a pantsers doesn't make a difference. Putting the story on paper is what matters.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Taken Tuesday!---RELEASE DAY

That's right--Taken had been released an entire week early! Ah, the beauty of electronic publishing.

For those of you who missed the cover the first time, here's another look:






Taken is available on Barnes & Noble as well as Amazon--but, what's a release day without a giveaway!

What do you have to do? Comment below. That's it. That's all. There ain't no more.

As always, happy reading!