Juju Balance

Now, some cool stuff to balance the previous post (because karma is real…I’m just sayin’…)

Missy Higgins, a singer/songwriter from Australia. Talk about rocking…this girl has mad storytelling skillz. Watch this video of her incredible acoustic performance on CBS’s Saturday Morning Show.

I’m in a little poetry jag at the moment, reading Nikki Giovanni for fun and profit (maybe) and some Jane Kenyon, too. Got any favorites? Let me know!

Getting the characters in my current WIP…finally. It took about 10K words…10K of the wrong words. Trust me, the right words don’t flow from my fingers into the laptop. But I’m there now…and reading more Laura Kinsale helps. I just reread The Hidden Heart, and I have nothing but admiration for Kinsale’s writing. Having read two of her books back to back, I’m in awe of her ability to create completely different characters in each book. So often writers write the same story again and again, or characterize their characters in the same way. Not Kinsale. Jervaulx is NOT Gryf. Maddy isn’t Tess. It’s so SATISFYING as a reader. Draining as a writer, but the effort’s worth the price.

Still grooving to Going Too Far. Enough said.

Some not-so-cool stuff…

One of the cool things about blogging is tracking how people arrive at your blog. To get here people have typed “anne calhoun” into a search engine, or “liberating lacey” or “mortgage broker sex” (who knew?) orĀ  “sexy romantic slave” (I don’t want to know).

They’ve also typed things like “liberating lacey free download” and, horrifyingly, “going too far by jennifer echols + free download”.

People, I’m appalled. If you find my book available for free somewhere on the internet and you download it, you’re stealing both from me and from my publisher. That’s wrong, and perhaps more important, it’s bad karma. Same thing goes for downloading music. You want artists of any kind to keep producing the art you want to read or listen to or look at? Buy it. I buy your services as a cable installer or a programmer or a barista or a lawyer. Buy mine as a writer (or Jennifer Echols’…and trust me, her book is well worth the $8.40 you’ll pay for it on amazon or similar).

That is all.

Note to Self re: Laura Kinsale

Self, do not begin a Laura Kinsale book at 10 p.m., even if it’s Flowers From The Storm, a book you’ve read before. Don’t do it. You won’t be able to put the book down. You’ll still be sucked into the complex, emotional plot. You’ll still wonder if Jervaulx will fully recover from his stroke. You’ll want to cry when Maddy leaves him for the Quakers ready to snub her. You’ll cringe at the treatment Jervaulx receives in the asylum, and you’ll marvel at the language. So don’t do it. You’re getting up there in years. You need your sleep.

Oh, hell. Do it anyway, because the satisfaction of finishing a really fantastic romance, even at 2 a.m. is worth facing the rest of your day on four hours of sleep.

But you really shouldn’t start The Hidden Heart over your chai. If you do, you won’t get any work done. So don’t.

Yeah, like that’s not going to happen!

Going Too Far by Jennifer Echols

Today I read a book that reminded me why it’s so important to read out of genre. Generally speaking, I don’t read YA fiction. I’m not a YA, not by a long shot, and there’s so much to read. But the Smart Bitches reviewed Going Too Far by Jennifer Echols. I was intrigued so I ordered a copy from Amazon. It arrived at 4 p.m. this afternoon. It’s now 7:21 and I’ve finished the book (and obtained dinner from a drivethru window and put in a movie for the Small Boy. I realize too much TV is bad for kids, but my husband’s in Colorado – I’m not – and I needed to finish this book. That’s just the kind of mom I am).

Loved it. Loved it loved it loved it. Loved everything about it, but especially loved the edge the romance had, and how skillfully Ms. Echols walked that edge. I loved how the hero, John After, was both a boy and a man. Very, very nicely done. Much of the SBTB discussion focuses on two plot points, both of which require a suspension of disbelief I was very willing to engage in to fall for these characters. Mostly I just loved how her spare style let the characters emerge slowly, without alot of backstory and yammering. I love finishing a book and thinking, “I can learn something here.

A great addition to the 2009 Reading List. I highly recommend it!

I'm a Minion

This is one of the coolest things EVER – Megan Hart, the amazingly talented Megan Hart – made me a minion (aka interviewed me for her blog). Check it out!

If you’re here because you liked Lacey and you haven’t read Megan Hart, please consider giving her books a try. Her Spice releases Dirty and Broken changed the way I thought about, read and most important, wrote erotic romance. They’re amazing.

Happy Friday!

Coffee Shop Day

We had summer for a while, then summer decided to take a hiatus so we’re back to cool, gray spring weather. In my book that’s a great day to write at a coffee shop, so here I am, chai latte at my elbow, the neighborhood clock chiming the hour, jazz and NPR on the radio in the background. Now…if I can just resist the pumpkin spice muffins….

The Ups and Downs of Life in General

A couple of months ago I got a recall notice for my car. It didn’t sound serious, so I waited until I had thirty-six seconds of free time and made an appointment at my dealership. This was for a recall on a doohickey and an oil change, which is way more expensive at the dealership but I wasn’t going to deal with “car stuff” at two different places to save ten bucks. So I took the car in, hitched a ride home with my husband, and worked. Seven pages today, plus some other “writing stuff” I had to do. I’m not feeling descriptive tonight.

The dealership calls not to tell me my car is ready but that they’ve found a tack in the wall of the right front tire and I need to replace the tire. Grrrr…but I’m not doing that at the dealership because it’s way more expensive, so the dealership puts the spare on my car and hubby and I drive over to the tire store where we pay $450 for 4 brand new tires (the old ones had 50K miles on them and we got a $50 Home Depot gift certificate if we bought four tires). So a $30 trip to the dealership turns into a $500 day, plus I still had to go to two car places.

As Scarlett says, tomorrow is another day. For me it’s another day with four brand spanking new performance tires. Woot!

The Ups and Downs of My Writing Life

So. You work and you slave and you dream and you revise and you submit to publishers and eventually if you work hard enough and the planets align you have a book come out. Then people say things like “This is probably one of the best romances I’ve read in a decade” (thank you, Dawn!) and “If it ever comes out in paperback I’d pay for the print copy to go with the e-copy” (thank you, JJ!) and you feel like a rock star, or at least a roadie for someone awesome, like Sting or Joshua Radin. You take yourself out to the best restaurant in your city (and you’re alone because your husband’s business has send him on an unexpected and unnecessary trip on your release day, the bastards, but they pay the bills so what can you do?) and you have fabulous tiramisu, and then your phone rings.

It’s an editor. A real live editor, one you submitted a book to back when your child was still in Pullups at night, not on the verge of kindergarten, and your heart stops beating. Then she says, “It’s not what you think.” And the conversation goes downhill from there. After you hang up you search for your heart and your self-esteem under the tables of the best restaurant in your city.

Rejection is a fact of life for writers. Liberating Lacey came out last week, and bookending that release (yeah!) by a matter of days were two rejections (ouch!). With one firm but kind rejection I had the option to revise and resub, which I’m electing not to do. With the other, well, we’re going to leave that dead soldier right where he is, thank you very much.

Embedded in both rejections, however, was valuable information about what each editor does want. If you’re in the right mindset, information included in rejection letters is worth its weight in gold. No, they don’t want what you offered. Fine. Pay attention to what they said and offer them something else. Something better.

Another fabulous book about being an artist is The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. He wrote Gates of Fire and The Legend of Bagger Vance but he wrote for ten years before he got a paycheck for something he’d written and another ten before he even had the chance to work on King Kong Lives which was a colossal bomb, so when it comes to failure and rejection, he knows from whence he speaks. A friend gave him this pithy piece of advice after KKL came out:

“So you’re taking a few blows. That’s the price for being in the arena and not on the sidelines. Stop complaining and be grateful.” (72)

I’m in the arena, and I’m grateful.