Posted in A Day in the Life, books, Lane is Writing, PLAYING ALL THE ANGLES, The Book, the submission process

Banner Day!

It is a banner day all around! The best news is that my mother is being released from the hospital today, having had a successful surgery, and excellent recovery. She’ll be back to top form in no time.

The other good news is that I sold the romance novel! I can’t share too much right now, other than the title, PLAYING ALL THE ANGLES, but I am thrilled. I’d had word from the publisher several weeks ago, that I should have an answer within the week, but hadn’t heard back from them. Yesterday, sleep deprivation and stress broke down my “don’t bother the nice people” mentality, and I contacted them. I had a response within the hour, and I was sure it meant a rejection was on the way. I had steeled myself for it, so when I started reading the email from the managing editor this morning, I had to read it three times before I was convinced it wasn’t dyslexia playing tricks on me.

Now, here is the importance of objective, impartial readers: Nicole and I started this story a decade ago. While I was shopping TIARA TROUBLE, I found a piece of the romance file, and started working on it again. I rewrote a good deal, added a new opening, and finished it off, then sent out a few queries.

Meanwhile, I won a critique spot on one of openings on Miss Snark’s First Victim, and based on the commentary there, I did another harsh edit, and went through with the critique suggestions/questions in mind. I sent off the next submission and…sold it! –If you are a writer, I highly suggest Miss Snark’s site. You can learn a lot from reading the critiques, and get an idea of what is working well for people. You also have lottery style opportunities to share your work with some great agents.–

I really credit that critique commentary for helping me streamline and bring some clarity to a story with three plotlines and a lot of characters. I think it’s a pretty decent stab at a Judith Krantzian style of melodramatic romance.

Right this second, I am typing from my iPad in Mom’s hospital room. We’re waiting for her release. She’s napping, and I am freezing because the a/c is set at 60. But, I’m very, very happy. Very.

Posted in Destinee Faith Miller Mystery, Friends of Mine, Lancient History

Sneak Peek. Literally.

I told you earlier that Destinee and I are not much alike.  However, some of my life experiences are just too much fun not to pass along to her.  Leslieann, Karen, Renae, and most unfortunately, Leslieann’s ex-husband can tell you the version of this story that happened to me.  But here’s how it played out for our favorite Beauty Queen:

I knocked at the restroom door, and no one answered, so I opened it a hair and shimmied in.  No need to expose the whole room to the toilet, so perfectly framed by the doorway.  Shutting it behind me, I carried my clutch over to the sink and took out my lip gloss.  I find that when I am not feeling myself, just having a moment in front of a mirror with a good lip gloss can turn my mood completely around.

I don’t know why that is.  I suppose it might be because I feel fully in control of my makeup.  I know I can paint myself up to look like anything I want, and when I feel out of control in every other arena, I find comfort in my travel kit.

For just a minute or two, I let myself get lost in following the lines of my lips with the fuzzy applicator.  My heart rate calming as I watched them fill out and plump up with the cayenne in the gloss I was using.  When I felt a little better, I put everything back into my bag and thought I should probably spend the extra few seconds it would take to avail myself of the facilities.  I had been drinking water all day, and with the schedule I keep, it’s not always easy to take a break.

I took the two steps up to the toilet and laid my clutch down on the back of it, then did as one does in such a situation.  I was midway to full relief when a motion caught my eye and I realized the doorknob was jiggling.  “Occupied,” I called out, but the knob kept turning.

I just knew it would stop because I was sure I had locked it, but to my horror, I watched it continue to turn and then the door swung wide open.  In a heartbeat, I found myself looking out over Bobbie’s wedding reception from a toilet on a platform about four feet off the ground, and then realized that Bobbie’s wedding reception was looking straight on at me.  Do you know what is eye level to the average bear when someone is sitting on a toilet that is built up on a platform about four feet off the ground?

There I was, on the proverbial throne with Victoria’s Secret down around my ankles, and my own secret flashing the groom himself.  I squealed and slammed my knees together so hard and so fast, I bruised them both, calling, “Hey!  Shut the door!”

Posted in books, Destinee Faith Miller Mystery, writing

Slap Fight

Another quick note about writing, since that’s what I’m spending all my free time on right now.  One of the hardest things, for me, is staying in character.  It is very easy for me to conceive of ideas, plot points, twists and turns, but staying in character is difficult.  When you are writing in first person, how your character acts and reacts is what drives your plot.  Getting out of character can ruin a scene.

Destinee is an optimist.  She is a bright girl with a low-level education, whose vocabulary and speech patterns are a mix of small town Alabama and national pageant interview training.  She hasn’t read many of the Classics, but she is very well read when it comes to current events, and she would surprise you with her knowledge of geography and politics.  She absolutely cannot work higher math, but she is a savvy business woman and keeps her own accounting.  She is incredibly confident in the way of professional athletes, in that she can strike out in a major way, then get up again swinging without losing her sense of value or worrying that she’s not good at her game.  She looks at the world through the eye of a coach, but she is not critical until it comes to mean people.  And, she is completely independent, but wants to be close to home.  She has chosen to live next door to her family because she loves them, not because she’s afraid to be without them.

Destinee is very different from me.  I am cautiously optimistic, at best.  I am well educated, but I have not spent nearly enough time on anything of real importance.  I am not an entrepreneur.  I do not have the same kind of confidence.  I am not fearless.  I prefer bagels to bikinis.

When writing in first person for Destinee, it is easy to project my own ways onto her.  I spent a couple of hours writing a scene, but it just wasn’t feeling right.  I finished it out, slept on it, and woke up realizing the problem was that Destinee wasn’t acting like herself.  She was acting like me.

Where Destinee should have taken a few seconds to assess her situation, then taken full control of it (because she’s Destinee Faith Miller, ya’ll), she had assessed the situation and allowed it to consume her, never acting, only reacting.

If you slap me, I will gape at you and wonder why you hit me, and I will worry that if I slap you back, you’ll slap me again and it will hurt worse, and I will try to figure out how to get away from you without any more handprints on my face.

If you slap Destinee, she’ll slap you back harder and tear out a hank of your hair for good measure.

So, if I write into my personal comfort zone, the scene veers off in the wrong direction, changing the course of the entire novel–and that’s why I needed to rewrite so much.


Posted in books, Cozy Cat Press, Destinee Faith Miller Mystery, Lane is Writing

Things You Know

The thing about writing is that you never really know what you know, or what you don’t know until you start trying to put it down on paper.  I think the funniest thing is finding out what you do know.  What bits and pieces of information have settled into the grooves of your brain, collecting dust for years until you suddenly you find yourself recollecting it in the heat of the writing moment.  I was having some of those moments last night.

I tore up nearly 20 pages of work to revamp my opening last night, only to realize it isn’t my opening at all.  It’s somewhere closer to the middle.  I had to rewrite a lot of Telling with some Showing.  I can say, “Bobbie’s mother-in-law thought she dressed poorly,” and that tells you something.  Or, I can say, “Margaret Clayton eyed Bobbie’s get-up with an expression of fearful disgust that I only ever saw when my mother was cleaning out Rusty’s pockets before doing laundry. And even then, there was some fondness in her eyes.  Mrs. Clayton?  I had a feeling Bobbie could trade in her Target for Talbot’s and the only softening in her future mother-in-law’s gaze would be for the brand tag sewn into her shirt back.”  That shows you a lot of things.

If I just tell you something, you have to trust my word and that’s that.  But if I show you the picture of something, you are allowed to infer and draw your own conclusions.  If I do it properly, you enjoy it more.  If I do it properly, I’ve given you a wider view of the character’s world.  If I don’t do it properly, you just get a lot of strawberry scented elegance, and I do try to avoid that.

And that’s why I had to tear up 20 pages.  I spent 20 pages telling you things I should have shown you.  That’s good, though.  I mean, you need to know just why Mushroom and Cockatoo made Bobbie cry, and how that came to be, or else when it comes time to start pointing fingers at murderers, you aren’t going to care.


Posted in A Day in the Life, books, writing

Write This Way

Until I started to write this blog entry, I had forgotten how much I loved Bill Fitzhugh’s book, Pest Control.  It is, hands down, one of the funniest books I’ve ever read.  It also got me a date.  See, I bought it, then went into the B&N cafe to start reading it (as was my wont back in the college days) and I started giggling out loud.  The laughter caught the attention of a fellow bookworm, who struck up a conversation and asked me out.

That dating relationship lasted somewhat longer than the “romance” that blossomed in my psychologist’s office around the same time, but was no less strange.  Oh, the stories I have to tell, People.  The stories I have to tell.

Anyway, Bill Fitzhugh.  Hilarious.  Look him up.  Organ Grinders is another great work of his.

I remembered Fitzhugh because I had forgotten a large part of an interview I read that involved him.  I’m getting there.  Stay with me.  I can’t remember if it was Fitzhugh being interviewed, or someone else being interviewed who mentioned him, but the long and short of it was that one author had worked his arse off trying to get published and there had been some hijinks about renting an ice cream cone costume to try to get his manuscript into the hands of an agent/publisher/something, and one author just sent in a manuscript and was published and famous the next day.  It was an anecdote about how fickle the publishing industry is–any industry that relies on public consumption, really.

Is it who you know?  Or how good you are at what you do?  Or just happening to be where lightning strikes?  Or what?  JK Rowling and EL James are both names you’d recognize, but took very different pathways to their success.  And seriously?  How depressing must that be for some writers?  I mean, Rowling is a demi-god, who should stand in the Pantheon with Lewis and Tolkien (sacrilege?  I think not.)  You can be okay with never achieving her level of success because–look at her body of work!  James is… a very different story.  Although, it makes you feel better about your chances at being struck by lightning, it might make you feel a lot worse about rejection notices.

Everyone goes about it differently.  There isn’t any set way.  The only things that are certain are that you must have the mental energy to finish a manuscript, the willingness to put it out there for criticism, the ability to accept rejection, a thick enough skin to live around the people who hate it, and the optimism, self-confidence and mental energy to do it all over again until lightning strikes.  Lather, rinse, repeat.

It’s funny how many of my friends are writers.  I didn’t go looking for writer friends.  We all just sort of ended up in the same places (LiveJournal, TTP, Facebook–places where you can write) excited about the same things.  We work together, most of us, to help each other along. 

And that’s good, because while I am totally into the idea of wearing an ice cream cone costume, I am exhausted by the idea of printing out so many pages of work and hulking them around everywhere.