Wednesday, October 29, 2008

This is your brain. This is your brain on deadline.

Yes, I hit a new all-time low. I got out of the car at the soccer field to pick up my son and looked down at my feet:

Then I got back IN the car and drove 'round to pick him up, remaining in the car. Poor kid is already going to need therapy, having a writer for a mother . . .

Navy Guy made me deadline brownies

Yesterday was a bad, bad day. Bad. Darling husband came home and provided big hugs and homemade brownies. With walnuts. Lucky, lucky Alyssa.

Also, there was a pug bath, because how can you be sad with this for entertainment??

Please everybody share your de-stress tips with me!! Thanks!!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Cold snap!!

35 degrees overnight!! In Florida!! I pulled out the LL Bean jackets for the kids. I *love* it - it's great writing weather. Anybody actually seeing snow yet?? My daughter has never seen snow (that she remembers). I need to travel to snow this winter!!
alyssa, back to the book! Yay!!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Goodbye to email

I had to pull the plug around noon; finishing the book!! Wish me luck and send Alexios and Grace "happily ever after" vibes.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

August 26, 1920

All of our daughters should know this date. It's the date the Nineteenth Amendment was signed into law, giving women in this country the right to vote. Only 88 years -- only 88 years of having a voice -- of claiming for ourselves the right to representation upon which this country was founded.

The prevailing argument against giving women the right to vote was that we "didn't want to be bothered with unwomanly things." I absolutely LOVE the response one suffragist of the time had to this. In 1915, writer Alice Duer Miller wrote:

Why We Don't Want Men to Vote

* Because man's place is in the army.

* Because no really manly man wants to settle any question otherwise than by fighting about it.

* Because if men should adopt peaceable methods women will no longer look up to them.

* Because men will lose their charm if they step out of their natural sphere and interest themselves in other matters than feats of arms, uniforms, and drums.

* Because men are too emotional to vote. Their conduct at baseball games and political conventions shows this, while their innate tendency to appeal to force renders them unfit for government.

Today I took my daughter AND my son to vote with me (Florida has an early voting provision). I wanted them to see democracy in action. I wanted them to be part of the first election in our nation's history that has a black man and a woman on the presidential and vice-presidential ballot.

No matter what your politics, please vote. And remember those women, 88 years ago, who fought so hard to give us this amazing right.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Gone to the dogs

So Sunday afternoon we had a call from the lovely Retha Puvogel (her name is an anagram for Heart Pug Love, in those truth stranger than fiction moments), who is the coordinator for the Orlando Pug Rescue. She was on her way up here to Jax Beach for a pet rescue fundraiser at Paws Park - could we stop by?

I seriously needed a break from the deadline, so we loaded up the entire family and headed for the park. Precious and Buckeye, our two rescues, clearly were excited:

It was our dogs' first time in an off-leash park and I was worried that they would be intimidated (or worse, aggressive to the smaller dogs, since my four run in a pack) or that I'd be chasing after them like crazy when it was time to come home. Imagine my surprise and delight when it all went wonderfully!! They absolutely loved it. Had a blast, played chase with other dogs, got mad attention from other humans, but stayed in a loose orbit around me at all times. One whistle and (mostly, Buckeye had some roaming to do, I admit) they'd be back at our side.

It was fabulous and raised money for all the rescue and dog-related groups out there. I'm dying, of course, to write something about a "tail wagging good time" but in our case, it was more about the tongues:

If you're in the market for a new pet, dog, cat, ferret, or whatever, please check out PetFinder. Or if you have a few dollars to spare in this tough time, please help out your local rescue group or humane society. The economic crunch is really hitting them all hard.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Happy weekend!

I'm fighting another giant headache but managed to have lunch with a friend and stop by the bookstore. Picked up Julia Quinn's MR. CAVENDISH, I PRESUME - even if you're not a historical romance fan, read Julie. Her dialogue is wonderful - it sparkles right off the page. And she is one of the nicest people on the planet, so it's just a feel good purchase all the way around. Found John Irving's UNTIL I FIND YOU on the remainder table for $7 instead of the $15 that the paperback version cost, so I bought the heavy hard cover version and splurged for another pumpkin spice latte with the difference. Also the dog whisperer's newest - with 4 dogs it can't hurt to learn all that I can learn about keeping my furry herd in line. (Saw him on BONES and was fascinated.)

My lovely editor cover conferenced ATLANTIS UNMASKED yesterday; I can't wait to see the art they come up with for him. I'll share as soon as I see it.

Oh, and let's see how this works:

Happy weekend!!

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

The hidden universe of characters

Because WILD THING is being reissued in mass market paperback in January (I'd better check on that, actually; Berkley sometimes switches around release dates on reissues and doesn't tell us) and I get a chance to read Bastien's story again and see if there were any "oopsies!" in the printed copy that I wish I could have changed then. Actually there was one oops in that I mentioned the Atlantean ability to change eye color like a mood ring but didn't actually mention it - ok, Bastien's eyes were two different colors in the space of a couple of different pages because of what he was dealing with and there it was. Nobody ever wrote to me about it, like "hey, loser, your MAIN CHARACTER changed EYE colors!! Don't you have an EDITOR?" or something like that, but I would have been prepared, because I knew why he changed eye colors but I just didn't bother to tell my READERS.

This is the tip of the iceberg (heh, icebergs, oceans, Atlantis, I crack myself up in a very first grade sort of way today, maybe because I'm on a caffeine overload since Starbucks brought my beloved pumpkin spice lattes back out, so forgive me the stream of consciousness) when it comes to the actual universe a character lives in and the author knows ALL ABOUT but doesn't have room to tell you in the book.

Why not? You cry! We want, no, need, no, DESERVE to know this stuff!! Well, the answer is simple. It would be a backstory dump of leviathan proportions and it would bore you silly and it would make for 7000 page books.

So there are going to be tons of things an author knows about the universe of her characters that will be revealed gradually or maybe never revealed at all but will be part of the rich tapestry of life experiences that have grown that character into the self he or she is in the book.

The problem is in the balance - and this is often true of life, too, which sadly took me about 30 years to figure out, but that's a very long story and one that probably needs a prologue from a practicing psychiatrist or at least a witch doctor -- and when the balance is good, or even great, you're going to care enough about the characters to give a serious damn what they do in life and where they go and if they end up happy or get their comeuppance or whatever you feel they deserved. Because you've INVESTED in those people, and you DESERVE TO KNOW.

I didn't get this at first. I got it as a reader; I really did. There were plenty of characters that I'd wonder what they were up to now. But when I wrote my very first novel and people would come up to me at booksignings and ask "What are Jules and Sam doing these days?" I would be taken aback and think thoughts like "if only I had a red hotline to Imaginary Character Land I could tell you . . ."

Because I'd created them and then I'd been done with them, I'd forgotten that they lived on in the minds of those who'd invested in their lives during the course of reading my book. This, let me tell you, let me shout from the rooftops, THIS is an amazing gift that readers give authors. For a reader to invest that kind of emotional energy in a character I'd created -- it's humbling and validating and totally blows me away with joy and gratitude. But the first few times I didn't expect it. Authors were the *other* people.

Oh, yeah. Now, me, too.

So sometimes I can tell you a lot about characters that you'll never read in the books, if you're really interested. Sometimes I DO know the answer to the question you're dying to know, but I can't or won't share because it will ruin an upcoming plot twist if I give away the surprise. For example, when I discovered the big secret about the Atlantean priesthood that you're going to find out in ATLANTIS UNLEASHED, I nearly fell out of my chair. (Alaric is freaking out, let me tell you, and he's not much of a freak-outer.)

So, anyway, back to the page proofs, then on to the prep for copyedits for Unleashed. My short story for THE MAMMOTH BOOK OF PARANORMAL ROMANCE is done and edited (had to change "drawers" to "trousers" which tickled me). Then back to new pages on Alexios's book. He's quieter than some of the others in the Seven, so it's interesting to peel back the layers in his character universe until I can see him for who he really is instead of the scarred face he presents to the world.

Oh, and I PROMISE to put the first couple of chapters of Justice's book up on the website by next week. Sheesh. It's October, already. Hmmm, I think I'm going to need more of that pumpkin spice latte . . .