I write fiction like a girl...

But I blog like a boy!

Saw this link on Milo James Fowler's blog:  Gender Genie!

What's interesting is that I always thought it would be the other way around (because you know if the Gender Genie proclaims it to be true, it must be so.)

Spill!  What's your writing gender?  Inquiring minds will shrivel up and die if you don't tell me.

In other important news, please note that I will be on vacation for two weeks starting today.  So I won't be blogging.  Instead, I'll be eating good food, catching up with old friends, and hopefully reading a book or two.

See you back here on Monday, August 16. 

Try and miss me, at least a little.

And not that this has anything to with anything, but here's a cute picture of Sasha.  Isn't she adorable?  You'd never know it, but she's the feistiest little thing.  She doesn't take shit from anybody, especially not her three brothers (who are all twice her size).

Don't make her mad.
You won't like her when she's mad.  

More ramblings On Writing

 (This is just one shelf of Stephen King's stuff.  There are two more.)

Just finished my third read of ON WRITING and felt compelled to ramble on a little more.

As I mentioned in my original post, someone gave me this book a long time ago, knowing that I was a fan of Stephen King and that I hadn't written anything in a long time.  She thought it might provide some inspiration.  This was back in 2001.

It did inspire me.  But it also kind of didn't.  On the one hand, it was fascinating to delve into my favorite author's mind to find out how he created whole new worlds.  I was surprised to find out how methodical his process actually was, and the fact that he writes every day, seven days a week (including Christmas and his birthday) was mind-boggling.  His daily word count goal was 2,000 words, which seemed ridiculously high to a girl who could barely write a short story.  While I was inspired by his mounds of rejection letters, I was also intimidated.  It didn't seem like his mastery of the craft was in any way achievable for someone like me.  I mean, write every day?  Get tons of rejections?  Are you kidding me?

Sure, I wanted his career… but dude, not that bad.

Fast forward six years.

It was 2007, and I was in the midst of writing my first novel.  I felt lonely.  And lost.  I had 40,000 words of a story that was meandering in seven different directions.  I was pretty sure it sucked.  I didn't have any writer friends to reassure me that what I was feeling was normal, and I was beginning to choke.  My own book was drowning me.

ON WRITING was my life raft.  Okay, so it was the only writing book I owned at the time, but it was a ray of hope.  When you don't know what you're doing, you'll listen to what anybody has to say, and I was more than ready to hear Stephen King's advice.  This time, I read the second half of the book slowly.  I made notes.  I paid attention.

The first thing I did was beef up my word count to 2,000.  Hey, not so difficult!  Then I gave myself permission to let the story unfold organically, dictated by the situation and the characters, having faith that I'd get to the end eventually (why be such a control freak?  Every story comes out somewhere).  I told myself it was okay to write a crappy first draft (that's what revisions are for).  Not even Stephen King gets it right the first time.  He does three to four drafts before he hands his stuff over to betas.  I'll do the same!

Oh yeah.  And I'll find betas.  Somehow.

That first novel never went anywhere.  It really did suck.  But it wasn't wasted time, because I learned a lot.  When I started writing my second novel, I was able to avoid the holes I'd written myself into the first time around.  And something had changed.  Now I wanted it.  Yes, dude.  That bad.

Today I finished reading ON WRITING for the third time.  I've grown a lot as a writer since 2001.  Now I have opinions of my own.  I have my own process.  And while I still agree with 95% of what King has to say (here's to not outlining!) there are actually some things that don't work for me.  For instance, I need weekends off to recharge my batteries.  I can't write seven days a week – I'll burn out.

There are a lot of good writing books out there, each one useful in its own way.  But I don't read them over and over again.  I've already extracted what I can, and I know what I need to do in theory.  How much more reading about writing can I do?  I don't think all the How To books in the world could make me a better writer – the only thing I can do now is write.  (When I was a kid, my dad had tons of books lying around about tennis.  I read them all.  They were chock full of useful tips.  But the only way to learn tennis?  PLAY TENNIS!)

Still, ON WRITING will always be set apart from the other writing books on my shelf.  I love this book not just because Stephen King dispenses sensible advice in a fun, readable way, but because this man writes novels I love.  When you genuinely love someone's work, their advice holds a lot of weight.

So, which author do YOU wish would write a book about writing?

The movie in my mind

Announcement:  I'm being interviewed today by Jen at unedited! Stop by and say hello!

Now, on to today's post.

When I was writing the first draft of CREEP, I listened to a lot of classic rock and alternative.  I had a bunch of songs on rotation, mostly tunes by Velvet Underground, Depeche Mode and, of course, Radiohead.  It didn't feel right to listen to anything else, not even Lady Gaga.  As much as I love her (and you know I do!), her songs were too frantic and fun for for my Seattle-based serial killer.  Eventually my playlist became the soundtrack for CREEP: THE MOVIE IN MY MIND

If I'm having a good writing day, my scenes will play out like movies.  On the best days, all I have to do is write what I see.  I might not be able to see the faces of my characters, but I can see their shadows.  I can see the alleyway behind the soup kitchen where my killer volunteers.  I can smell the piss and vomit from the homeless people who live in the alley.  I can see the piles of garbage in the dumpster, and I can hear the wails of the ambulence sirens that rush by every hour, on the hour.  I can see the glowing neon lights of the fish market that's closed for the night.  And if I breathe really deep, I can sometimes smell the fish scent left behind from the day's business.

If I'm not having a good writing day, I can't see any of this at all.  This is where the soundtrack comes in.  The right song can put me right where I need to be, and it almost never fails to work.  For example, if I'm in a happy mood and my writing is too peppy, this song will put me right into Serial Killer Mode:

(link no longer valid)

Gold star if you can guess the movie that made this song famous!  And another gold star if you can describe the actual scene where it played.  No Googling!

So, what's currently on your writing soundtrack?

Ten not-so-random numbers

Not a top 10 list in the true sense, but an interesting assortment of numbers nonetheless...

7– the number of drafts I wrote before querying agents

96 – the number of queries I sent

10 – the number of requests I received

48 – the number of rejections I received

46 – the number of rejections I received that were form

1 – the number of agent offers I received before I signed

3 – the number of manuscripts I pulled from other agents once I signed (I didn't give them a chance to offer)

2 – the number of revisions my agent put me through before submitting to editors

98 – the number of weeks from the day I wrote the first word to the day my book sold

2011 – the year my book will come out

Do you have not-so-random numbers?  Share!

On Writing

I'm about halfway through my third read of Stephen King's ON WRITING, and I'm all aglow with the warm fuzzies.  I don't know what it is about this book, but whenever I read it, I'm reminded why I wanted to be a writer in the first place.

I think anybody who's ever thought about being a writer should read this book.  Anybody who loves books and has always wondered about the process of storytelling should read this book.  You don't even have to be a fan of King's to appreciate a book like this (though if you are a fan, you should absolutely read this book).  ON WRITING is the story of how Stephen King became a mega-bestselling author (ups and downs and all), and how can you be a writer or a fan (or both) and not be dying to know how the hell that happened? 

Certainly there are better How To books on writing out there, but King's intention was never to write the definitive text on the subject.  He simply shares what he knows (and he knows a lot).  And he gives you snippets of his own life experiences mixed in with all the tips.  Someone gave me this book a long time ago, back when I thought I'd lost my voice, and it sparked something in me back then.

It still does.

What Form Rejection Means To Me

My essay, for The Rejectionist's Anniversary Uncontest:

I've had the pleasure of receiving many form rejections in my writing career to date, and I look forward to the pleasure of receiving more someday.  Yes, really.

Form rejections make my writing world go round.  Yes, really. 

A form rejection means I've written something and put it out there.  It means I've worked hard.  It means I'm taking a shot at getting my work published, which requires courage… and a little insanity.

A form rejection that falls into my inbox – always with a wonderful 'ping' to announce its arrival – means that somebody out there has read my query.  Because I was brave enough to send it.  And so it doesn't matter that this person:

Didn't connect with the story
Didn't feel passionately about it

Felt it wasn't right for them
Wasn't sure they could market it properly
Was taking on very few new clients at this time

It doesn't mean they hated it.  Or me.  And it doesn't mean I suck.  I don't.  Form rejections, unlike personal rejections, do not need analysis.  They don't require me to tear my work to shreds and start all over.  They're wonderfully polite, impossibly diplomatic one or two-sentence letters that tell me exactly what the agent's bottom line is:

No thanks. 

And that's just fine with me.  I'm not damaged.  I'm not going to drive myself crazy wondering WHAT DOES IT MEAN? like the Double Rainbows dude.  All a form rejection means is that I'm going to query again.

And again.

And again.

And again.

Until someone says yes.

(And someone did.)

A pearl of wisdom

Mom:  So what did you buy at Powell's?

Me:  I bought sixteen books. Cost me less than sixty dollars. Good deal, huh?

Mom:  You bought used? Tsk tsk.

Me:  I know, you're right, I should have bought new. It supports the author better. But some of these books are out of print and they're not available new.

Mom:  Never mind that. You shouldn't buy used books because you don't know where they've been.   

Me:  And where's that?

Mom:  On the bathroom floor. Where there's pee. People read on the toilet all the time. So these books have all been in the hands of people who've just wiped their butts.

Me:  Wow. That's like, unbelievably gross, Mom.

Mom:  If you read them, don't rub your eyes afterward. You'll get pink eye.

Me:  Gross! Maybe I'll just throw them away then.

Mom:  You never throw away books! Tsk tsk! Just give them to your friends.

* * *

Why memorizing a one-sentence pitch is so important

Whenever I meet somebody new, New Person and I exchange the requisite getting-to-know-you questions.  The number one question is, of course:

"What do you do?"

An easy enough question to answer, and I've gotten a whole lot better at answering it than I did when I wrote this post over a year ago.

But 99% of the time, New Person throws a follow-up question at me:

"What's your book about?"

And here is where I choke.

Yes, I've written a novel.  Yes, I remember what it's about.  I've spent so much time with my characters and plot that I damn well have the whole thing memorized by now.

But ask me to verbally explain to you what my book is about, and I sound worse than Porky Pig.

I stutter.  I stammer.  I avert my eyes.  I babble.  I trip over the words sex and addict and serial and killer.  I feel my face turn red.  I giggle even though nothing's funny.  I speak in run-on sentences with no pause for breath and I talk and talk until I can't breathe and the New Person I've just met is wishing she'd never asked the damned follow-up question in the first place because it clearly pains me to answer it.

And when I finally stop talking, I see three expressions flit across New Person's face.

The first is relief, because she was really uncomfortable watching me go through that, and she's glad it's over. (Not that I blame her.)

The second is that falsely bright look, the look that says, "I'm interested, really I am, but I have no idea what the hell you just said." (Again, I don't blame her.)

And finally, we come to the third facial expression.  Whether it be the skeptical brow furrow or the slight twitch of the lips, it's the expression that very clearly says (without actually saying anything at all):

"You're a writer?  Seriously?"

And of course, I don't blame her.  Because let's be honest... after thirty painful seconds of stuttering and quite possibly showering New Person's face with my nervous spittle, I sure as hell don't sound like a writer.

But I am a writer.  I swear.  And I really did write a book.  A big, fat book with a title and words and chapters and everything.  It's a real book.  I promise.

Just please, don't ask me to talk about it.

My ten favorite Princess Bride movie quotes

You won't understand these if you haven't seen the movie.  But if you have seen the movie, and have seen it about fifty times (like me), these will make you smile.  Read them out loud.  You know you want to.

Inigo Montoya:  Hello.  My name is Inigo Montoya.  You killed my father.  Prepare to die.

Vizzini:  Am I going mad, or did the word think escape your lips?  You were not hired for your brains, you hippopotamic land mass.

Inigo Montoya:  I agree with Fezzik.

Vizzini:  Oh, the sot has spoken. What happens to her is not truly your concern.  I will kill her.  And remember this, never forget this:  when I found you, you were so slobbering drunk, you couldn't buy brandy!

(turns to Fezzik) 

Vizzini:  And you!  Friendless, brainless, helpless, hopeless!  Do you want me to send you back to where you were?  Unemployed... in Greenland?

Vizzini:  Finish him.  Finish him, your way.

Fezzik: Oh good, my way. Thank you, Vizzini.  (pause)  What's my way?

Vizzini: Pick up one of those rocks, get behind a boulder.  In a few minutes the man in black will come running around the bend.  The minute his head is in view, hit it with the rock!

Fezzik:  My way's not very sportsman-like.

Inigo:  Where did we put that wheelbarrow the albino had?

Fezzik:  Over the albino, I think.

Vizzini:  He didn't fall?  Inconceivable!

Inigo Montoya:  You keep using that word.  I do not think it means what you think it means.

Old Hag:  Your true love lives.  And you marry another.  True love saved her in the Fire Swamp, and she treated it like garbage.  And that's what she is, the Queen of Refuse.  So bow down to her if you want, bow to her.  Bow to the Queen of Slime, the Queen of Filth, the Queen of Putrescence.  Boo!  Boo!  Rubbish!  Filth!  Slime!  Muck!  Boo!  Boo!  Boo!

Count Rugen:  As you know, the concept of the suction pump is centuries old.  Really that's all this is, except that instead of sucking water, I'm sucking life.  I've just sucked one year of your life away.  I might one day go as high as five, but I really don't know what that would do to you. So, let's just start with what we have.  What did this do to you?  Tell me.  And remember, this is for posterity, so be honest.  How do you feel?

Westley:  (whimpers)

Count Rugen:  Interesting.

Inigo Montoya:  He's dead.  He can't talk.

Miracle Max:  Woo hoo hoo, look who knows so much!  It just so happens that your friend here is only mostly dead.  There's a big difference between mostly dead and all dead.  Mostly dead is slightly alive.  With all dead, well, with all dead there's usually only one thing you can do.

Inigo Montoya:  What's that?

Miracle Max:  Go through his clothes and look for loose change.

Vizzini:  You only think I guessed wrong!  That's what's so funny!  I switched glasses when your back was turned!  Ha ha!  You fool!  You fell victim to one of the classic blunders, the most famous of which is never get involved in a land war in Asia.  But only slightly less well-known is this:  Never go against a Sicilian when death is on the line!  Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!  Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Ha ha ha...


Westley:  Wrong.  Your ears you keep and I'll tell you why.  So that every shriek of every child at seeing your hideousness will be yours to cherish.  Every babe that weeps at your approach, every woman who cries out, "Dear God! What is that thing?", will echo in your perfect ears.  That is what "to the pain" means.  It means I leave you in anguish, wallowing in freakish misery forever.

Prince Humperdinck:  I think you're bluffing.

Westley:   It's possible, pig.  I might be bluffing.  It's conceivable, you miserable, vomitous mass, that I'm only lying here because I lack the strength to stand.  But, then again, perhaps I have the strength after all. 

(stands up slowly) 

Westley:  Drop.  Your.  Sword.

What are your favorite Princess Bride quotes?  
Come on, I know you have 'em!

This week is made of WIN!

It's been a F A B U L O U S week.

I finally got to chat with my editor at Gallery.  We've only just "met", but already I'm in love with her.  (Yikes, is that creepy?  Probably.)  She had so many nice things to say about the book, and let me tell you, it's weirdly fantastic to hear compliments.  We writers don't get very many compliments, you know.  We get criticism, and we get rejections.  So it's hard not to eat up sweet words like candy. 

We're still waiting on a release date for the book.  She should know for sure within a couple of weeks, but tentatively, it looks like CREEP could out be out in the summer or fall of 2011.  Woo hoo!  Once the release date is set, they'll set me up with an account at Simon & Schuster so I can create my author page.  Woo hoo again! 

Meanwhile, my homework is to compile a wish list of authors I'd like to blurb my book.  I'm not sure what will happen once I send this list to my editor, but it will be fun to put it together.  It's pretty amazing that a lot of authors I love are published by Gallery, like Jeffery Deaver, Greg Iles, Sandra Brown and, of course, the King himself.  And that's only naming a few.  I am humbled and awed to be part of this publishing family.  I can't think of any place I'd rather be.

In other news, a writing pal and I are embarking on a new project together.  It's too early to spill the beans, as it'll be another month or two before everything comes together, but we're pretty excited about it.  And she's had her share of good news this week, too.  (Go Jen go!)

Things are so incredible right now, I can't help but wonder what will go wrong (I wouldn't be me if I didn't wonder about that).  But who knows, maybe I'll be surprised.  Maybe, for once, nothing will.

Another random conversation

Mom:  I met a writer on the cruise.  Nice lady.  I told her all about you.

Me:  What does she write?

Mom:  True crime, like you.

Me:  I write thrillers.

Mom: I think you'd have lots to talk about.  I have her email address, so you should contact her.  She's been published.  (Lowers voice).  I read one of her books.  Awful, just awful.  Terrible, really.

Me:  Then why should I contact her?

Mom:  Because you could learn something!

The beauty of a bad crit

The other night, I found myself sifting through the mounds of critiques I received last year when I was workshopping the first chapter of CREEP.  I counted, and I have a total of twenty-three very detailed, very honest assessments of the first twelve pages of my book (which, as we writers know, tend to be the most important pages).  And you know what?


I kid, I kid.  Actually, most were spot on.  From pointing out voice inconsistencies to weak plot elements to questioning character motivations, I got a lot of really constructive criticism for my first chapter that I was able to apply way beyond the first twelve pages.  It wasn't always easy to hear people's opinions (I can actually think of a couple of crits that were so mean, they made me wish I knew how to curse those self-righteous sons of bitches with some horrible malady), but in the end, they were right or they were wrong.  Regardless of which way it went (and yep, most were right), every crit made me think long and hard about my work, even if I ended up tossing the advice in the trash.

I don't give a lot of advice on this blog, because there are far more better-qualified people for that, and what the hell do I really know?  All I can tell you is what's worked for me so far:  Read a lot.  Write a lot.  Ask for feedback.  Learn from it.  Talent helps.  So does luck.  But mostly it's about hard work.

Oh, and loving what you do.  That's the most important thing of all.

Top ten pet peeves about books

10.  Books printed in tiny font.  This isn't an issue with the mass market books produced now, because they're bigger.  But I have a lot of older mass market books from a few years ago that are hard to read because the font is so small.

9.  Characters that are over-described.  Hints of a character's appearance is fine (general build, hair color, an interesting scar or tattoo), but too much description can ruin the story.  If the author gives me a laundry list of physical attributes, I'll spend too much time trying to piece together all the parts in my head, when I should just be losing myself in the book.

8.  No author photo.  I hate it when I flip to the back of the book and there's no picture of the person who wrote it.  I know that the photo doesn't have anything to do with anything, but I can't help it, I'm curious!

7.  No acknowledgments page.  Again, this is me being nosy.  Who's your agent?  Who's your editor?  What's your Grandma's first name?  These are things that can be found in the acknowledgments page that are Essential For Me To Know.

6.  Typos.  I already ranted about this here.

5.  Excessive use of italics, which I already ranted about here.

4.  Inaccuracies in the back cover blurb.  My favorite book of all time was guilty of this! I have four different copies of Stephen King's IT, and the back cover blurb reads:  They were seven teenagers when they stumbled upon the horror.  No they weren't!  They were eleven!  Eleven eleven eleven!  Eleven is TWO YEARS away from being a teenager!  Twenty-five years and about a dozen readings later, this shit still annoys me.  (Edit to add:  I just checked the latest printing on Amazon.com and they fixed it.  It now reads:  They were just kids when they stumbled upon the horror.  Hallelujah.)

3.  Building up to a potentially great love scene that just fades to black.  I get why Stephenie Meyer did this in BREAKING DAWN, but after a thousand-plus pages of "Please bite me Edward so we can live happily ever" and "No Bella I can't it wouldn't be right", it would have been nice to have just a little sex.  A teeny little bit. 

2.  In keeping with #3:  Let-down endings.  THE ASSOCIATE by John Grisham, anyone?  I was lying by the pool in Mexico about a year ago reading it, and I overheard four ladies in lounge chairs next to me complaining about the disappointing ending.  And to my surprise (and dismay), they were absolutely right. 

1.  In keeping with #2:  Books that have NO ending.  It's irritating when a book just STOPS... and there's a difference between stopping and ending.  I find this is more likely to happen in literary fiction, and I can actually think of a perfect example... but I won't name names because, uh, there's a tiny chance that the author might actually read this blog.
As a reader, what are your pet peeves?

New writing space!

After painting, budget shopping, and building new bookcases (we shall not talk about the bookcases that did not work out), my new writing space/library/Jenny's Room is finally move-in ready!

Many, many, many thanks to Steve for all his hard work.  Nothing is sexier than a guy with a drill, am I right, ladies?

Never mind that I'm sitting here right now, I still love looking at the pictures!

This room is on the second floor of my house.  
(A cat with glowing eyes is watching you.  Say hello to Sasha.)

Picture me sitting in that chair RIGHT NOW (because there's a pretty good chance that I am).

I honestly thought I had a lot of books.  But now that I have more shelf space, I can clearly see that I don't.  They'll fill up... eventually.

I love love love my new room.  I can see myself writing a lot of books here.  Do you have a writing space you love?

A failed experiment in bookcase makeovers

That's what dried paint looks like in a pile.

Who knew dried paint could make a pile?

Not me!

A random conversation

Mom:  Maybe don't say so many fucks in your blog.

Me:  Why not?  If it's the word I want to use, then I should be honest about it and not say frig when I mean fuck.

Mom:  But fuck is a bad word.  You don't want people to think less of you.

Me:  Mom, I writer thrillers.  I write about death and dismemberment and serial killers and torture and kidnapping and blood.

Mom:  That's all fine, but just don't say fuck.

The ten scariest movies I've seen

One day late... it's Top 10 Tuesday!  Of all the horror movies I've watched (and I've seen my fair share), here are the ten films that scared me the most:

10. Silence of the Lambs
Not one, but two very big villains graced this film.  Hannibal Lecter, of course, who ate his victims, but also Buffalo Bill, who skinned them.  Bump into these two in a dark alley, and there'd be nothing left of you to bury.

9. Witchboard
An horrible, horrible B movie (okay, C movie), but when I watched it at 16, it scared the crap out of me.  A woman plays with a Ouija board and summons up an evil spirit who then tries to kill her. The moral of the story:  Ouija boards are evil.

8. Friday the 13th
Ahhh... Jason Voorhees.  This original movie was the first really gory horror film I ever watched.  One of the first of many mindless serial killer movies, it scared me because I happened to watch it in a house in the woods, which really upped the tension.  I couldn't sleep that night wondering if some guy was going to bust in and impale me to the bed with a broom handle.

7. Se7en
Some movies are scary in a fun kind of way – this wasn't one of them.  Based on the Seven Deadly Sins, every murder is bloody and gritty and original.  From the guy whose stomach explodes (Gluttony) to the guy who stabs a prostitute using a strap-on (Lust), this movie is gruesome, but also smart.  The fact that the plot doesn't insult you makes it scarier.

6. Carrie
The first 90% of this film is more creepy than scary.  Carrie's a misfit with telekinetic powers, and her mother's a religious fanatic.  Nothing really frightening really happens until the end, when a bloody hand suddenly pops out of the ground at the cemetery.  I'm not a screamer, and I screamed.  To this day, I still can't watch that part.  I will close my eyes and mute the sound until it's over.

5. The Omen
What would you do if the newborn son you brought home from the hospital is actually the son of Satan?  Why, kill him, of course!  But of course the parents don't, and of course everybody but the kid ends up dead.  I remember after I watched this, I snuck into my big brother's room early one morning to check if he had '666' anywhere on his head (I felt it would have explained a lot).

4. When A Stranger Calls
A teenager answers the phone at the house she's babysitting in, and a strange man says, "Did you check the children?"  After a couple more calls, she finally has the calls traced… and they're coming from inside the house!  Every babysitter's worst nightmare, and I babysat a lot in high school.

3. Candyman
Say "candy man" five times while looking in the mirror, and he'll appear.  And kill you.  A myth perhaps, but does anybody want to try it and see?  I sure as hell don't.  This is another B movie at best, but the urban setting (the slums of New York) was a great backdrop for all the blood and gore.

2. The Exorcist
A classic.  What is scarier than a 12-year-old girl possessed by a demon?  Her peeling, cracking face, the green vomit, her child's voice saying the most foul language you could imagine.  Plus the actual exorcism at the end is a cinematic masterpiece.  I can only watch this movie when the lights are bright and my husband is going to be home for a few days in a row afterward.

1. Paranormal Activity
I never thought any movie could be scarier than The Exorcist, but this movie has won the #1 spot for me.  A young couple films their bedroom at night while they're sleeping, only to discover they have a demon in the house. This movie messed me up for days afterward.  I've seen it once… and unlike all the other films on this list, I will never, EVER watch it again.

What movies scared you?

Mushroom foam

Steve and I spent all day painting.  All.  Day.  My wrists and shoulders are throbbing, and I think the fingers of my right hand are slightly numb.  But it was so worth it, because the walls of my new LIBRARY (yes, library... that's what I've decided to call it in lieu of OFFICE, which is so generic and not at all befitting of the wonderful storytelling room it's about to be) are fabulous.  The color is called "Mocha Accent", and the shade reminds me of mushroom foam.

Yes, mushroom foam.  The last couple of times Steve and I were in Cabo with friends, we stayed at a resort that served steak with a side of mushroom foam.  It was a peculiar looking food – it sort of looked like a dollop of whipped cream that was tinted a warm, rich, brownish gray.  I myself liked it.  Steve did not.  He took offense to both the color and the texture (I suppose foam foods are not for everyone.)  But in any case, mushroom foam looks great on the walls!

To save money, we also decided to paint my old bookcases white to match the new bookcases I just bought.  Yeah.  Bookcase painting = pain in the ass = don't do it if you're not prepared to be painting All Day.  It took about six hours to apply two coats (not including the drying time in between), and right now they're in the garage to dry and cure completely.  I'm a little worried.  Despite the fact that we prepped well, the paint doesn't appear to be adhering well.  In fact, I ran my nail lightly over the surface after the first coat dried, and the paint scratched right off.  Not good.  We'll know tomorrow whether our attempt to makeover these bookcases was worth it.

Meanwhile, I have piles of books stacked up in the upstairs hallway.  It took me about thirty minutes to unload them from the shelves and it will probably take three hours to put them all back in again.  Fun fun fun!

ETA:  I forgot that today's post should have been a Top Ten Tuesday.  Today felt like a Sunday since Steve had the day off!  Will post a top ten list tomorrow... assuming I can think of one.

Fresh start

It's been a home improvement kind of weekend.  Sometime this week I should be moving into my new writing space, and the timing couldn't be better.  A new office was already in the works, but the long weekend finally gave me some time to find my new desk and have Steve build me a couple of new bookshelves.  Tomorrow we'll paint.

The new space won't be completely finished by the time I move in, but at least I'll be out of the hallway nook, and into a room with a Door.  Doors are very important, especially when you have animals who like to bug you in the middle of writing Very Important Scenes.

Here's my current work space.  It's cute, right?  But my shelves now have twice as many books piled all over the place and there's no room to grow.  Plus that vase in the window no longer exists (thank to the animals who knocked it over and watched it shatter with great interest).

I'll post pics of the new space next weekend.

And just to make things Extra Freaking Unbelievable...

Gallery Books, my publisher (tee hee hee), is also Stephen King's publisher.  They're releasing UNDER THE DOME in trade paperback this month, so when I go and buy it (which of course I will), it's like I'm buying it from his my our publisher.

Seriously.  I mean, seriously.  I am like... this close to him.

I'm thinking I should write him a letter to let him know that we're practically family.  Or maybe I'll call him.  Better yet, I'll stop by his house with chocolate!  I think he'll appreciate that, yes?

Happy Independence Day!

Porn moment

Courtesy of Urban Dictionary:

Porn moment:  A move so smooth with regards to initiating sexual or pseudo-sexual congress with someone that it could only otherwise have happened in a heavily scripted porn film.

Person A:  So I lean over to try and get her number and BAM, next thing I know we're doing it in the back of my van. It was such a porn moment.

Person B:  Uhh, thanks dad.

Am I dreaming?

Thirty years ago today, I was spending a hot and sunny afternoon with my mother at Jack Darling Park in Mississauga, eating free vanilla cake and ice cream and getting my face painted, with a giant balloon tied to my wrist.  Bliss.

But today's pretty blissful, too.

I woke up this morning feeling really good and it took me a minute to remember why... and then pure, unadulterated happiness washed over me like a warm blanket.  People keep asking me how I feel, and my answer is... relief, mainly.  I was thrilled the day I signed with my agent.  This is different.  I didn't realize I'd been holding my breath for two months, and for the first time since April 30 (when we went on submission), I can breathe again.

There's also a lot of joy mixed in, and also a huge sense of accomplishment.  But right now, this moment, I feel blissful relief.

I was in a dead sleep when the phone rang yesterday morning.  I'd been up till 3 a.m. the night before, writing (not at all unusual for me), and when the phone rang at 7, I was jolted awake.  I have talking caller ID and so without moving, I waited to hear who was calling.  In that second or two, my brain was already annoyed.  I'd already been woken up painfully early on Sunday morning by a phone call that could have waited a few hours (if you're on my Facebook, you probably saw that rant), and so of course my first coherent thought was, "Somebody better be dead."

Thankfully, nobody was dead, and when I heard my phone's robotic voice say "Vic-tor-i-a Skur-nick", I was up and out of bed and on the phone in about a half a second.  Because I know my agent wouldn't call that early if wasn't something Really Fucking Important.

The first words I heard were, "We have an offer."  My brain kind of froze after that, and I think I physically crumpled.  I literally folded over onto the bed like a taco shell.  She was telling me about the deal, but all I could hear in my head was my own voice saying, "I'm getting published!  I'm getting published!" in a demented sing-song earworm-like way.

This is why writers need agents.  Because when we find out that somebody – anybody – wants to buy our book, we crumple and turn into grateful, blubbering idiots.  Thank God our agents are business people who know how to handle situations like this.

From there, the day only got better.  A few hours later I was on the phone with a friend (hi, Jen) when I happened to see the deal posted on Publisher's Marketplace and screamed (sorry about your ear, Jen).  I think that's when it finally hit me.  I've been subscribing to PM for two years, and have seen many, many deals posted.  To think that on June 30, 2010, one of those deals was mine...

WOW.  Just... WOW.

That one sentence on PM isn't just a description of my book, it's a summary of everything I've wanted and hoped for and dreamed about since I was a little kid, eating ice cream in the park, thinking that someday I might grow up to be the next Beverly Cleary.  Well, my work isn't anything like Beverly Cleary's (her books aren't about sex addicts and serial killers), but she's an author, and so am I.  And the fact that thirty years later, I have this in common with her is pretty damned cool.

Someone asked me if I planned to keep blogging.  HELL YEAH!  I now have a book to promote, duh!  But in all seriousness, even though I initially named this blog "Chasing Publication", this isn't the end of the story.

It's just the beginning.

Happy Canada Day!